FCC: 500 MHz for mobile broadband

Thu, 02/25/2010 - 7:15am
Maisie Ramsay, Wireless Week

The Federal Communications Commission’s upcoming National Broadband Plan aims to free up 500 megahertz of spectrum for mobile broadband over the next decade, said FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski in a speech before the New America Foundation yesterday.

“Spectrum – our airwaves – really is the oxygen of mobile broadband service,” he said. “Without sufficient spectrum, we will starve mobile broadband of the nourishment it needs to thrive as a platform for innovation, job creation and economic growth.”

Genachowski recommended auctioning off more spectrum to fix what he called a “looming spectrum crunch” caused by soaring demand for mobile data. His proposed auction would allow existing spectrum licensees, such as television broadcasters in spectrum-starved markets, to sell off their unused spectrum.

Genachowski emphasized that he recommended a voluntary approach, but he did not specifically rule out a mandatory reallocation of spectrum resources if the voluntary approach failed to provide enough bandwidth.

Genachowski said current data suggests “inefficiencies in the current allocation” of bandwidth, adding that the highly valuable spectrum currently allocated for broadcast television is not being used efficiently – indeed, much is not being used at all.

About 300 megahertz of spectrum have been set aside for broadcast TV. Only 36 megahertz are typically used for broadcast in markets with less than 1 million people, and only about 100 megahertz are used in cities with more than 1 million people. Even in major metropolitan areas, only about 150 megahertz of the allocated 300 megahertz are used for broadcast.

The FCC’s final National Broadband Report will be released March 17 after a one-month delay.

More Broadband Direct 2/25/10:
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•  Comcast's Project Cavalry hits North Fla.; 100 Mbps on tap
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•  DirecTV adds parents' reviews to guide 
•  Aurora is taking on cable's 'capacity challenge'
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