FCC backs off talk of forcefully reclaiming spectrum from TV broadcasters

Chris Ziegler
C. Ziegler|01.13.10

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FCC backs off talk of forcefully reclaiming spectrum from TV broadcasters
Rest easy, broadcasters: your hard-earned spectrum is safe, at least for the moment. The FCC's full-court press to round up additional spectrum for wireless broadband services had led it to suggest reclaiming some spectrum from broadcasters in recent months -- a move that would arguably make sense considering the ever-shrinking importance of over-the-air television and the availability of more efficient broadcast methods -- but was met with considerable resistance from the broadcast industry, ultimately leading it to back off the message this week. The Fed's director of scenario planning for its broadband task force has gone on record saying the commission had never seriously considered implementing such a plan, instead looking at "a scenario that establishes a voluntary marketplace mechanism so that broadcast TV stations have a choice in how they want to use their spectrum." In other words, sell it if you want, keep it if you want -- and in all likelihood, the FCC would be looking to repurpose any offloaded frequencies for broadband. Of course, this kind of plan could leave the country with a fragmented system of spectrum slots where individual stations have elected to sell part or all of their airwaves, not really an optimal solution when some estimates have us needing to clear several hundred additional megahertz to keep up with data demand over the next few years -- but it's a start.
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