Spectrum Reclamation On FCC's Agenda

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As promised, the Federal Communications Commission will propose new rules at its Nov. 30 meeting to "remove obstacles" to the re-use of TV spectrum for mobile broadband.

That is according to a tentative agenda for the monthly public meeting released Thursday.

The commission will have to change rules on the allocation of the broadcast spectrum to allow mobile broadband use, as well as change the rules to allow for channel sharing by broadcasters. "Those are barriers we need to lift," Genachowski told Multichannel News in an interview last month.

The FCC will also propose finding ways to improve DTV reception on the VHF band (channels 2-13) so more broadcasters can be moved there and out of the UHF band (14-51), which is better suited than UHF for wireless broadband. Of course, it is also better suited to DTV broadcasts, as broadcasters found during the DTV transition. That is why the FCC needs to find ways to make it more attractive. "UHF has characteristics that are stronger for mobile broadband," Genachowski said "and we want to look at proposals to improve VHF so it is more desirable for digital broadcasting so that we can end up with as much UHF spectrum as possible released for mobile broadband and broadcasters being very comfortable with VHF."

Also being teed up are notices to expand experimental licensing and opportunistic uses of spectrum, including secondary markets.

The FCC will need Congress to approve its use of incentive auctions, which will compensate broadcasters for giving up spectrum. The commission does not need that authority to take the above steps, but if broadcast spectrum reclamation and reallocation is to be voluntary, as FCC chairman Julius Genachowski has promised, the commission will need to compensate broadcasters for giving up spectrum or for the cost and trouble of moving from UHF to VHF as part of freeing up more space for broadband.

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