FCC Looks To TV Spectrum To Boost Mobile Broadband

The world belongs to the airwaves, and we're just breathing it all in. Or something like that. The FCC has been trying to figure out what to do with wireless spectrum for a few years now, first ushering in the analog-to-digital TV transition and then auctioning off unused 700MHz wireless spectrum. But now, the agency is saying that they need authority to "hold incentive auctions that would compensate television broadcasters for giving up some of their spectrum to wireless companies." The issue at stake is simple: the FCC sees a looming bandwidth crisis, and they are suggesting that some of the US airwaves used for free OTA TV signals must be "repurposed for mobile broadband."

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski stated: "I believe the single most important step that will drive our mobile economy and address consumer frustration is authorizing voluntary incentive auctions." That's a bold statement to make, but it's obvious what side he's on. Broadcasters have been (unsurprisingly) hesitant to go along with the plan. Alan Frank, chief executive of Post-Newsweek Stations Inc, had this to say: "We're talking about putting the whole system at risk. We need to start defining not how the auction works, but what this is going to mean for the broadcasters who don't participate in the auction."

The FCC is hoping to get both parties to come to a compromise, ensuring that the broadcasters' fears will be dealt with. Whatever happens, we'd love for mobile broadband to be expanded. It's already clear that America needs more of it, so the sooner the better in our minds.