The FCC today started an examination of the future of the spectrum currently used by broadcast television, beginning the formal process of implementing the ideas raised in its Broadband Plan of repurposing some of that spectrum for use by wireless broadband technologies. Specifically, the FCC adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, seeking comment on a number of issues. While the full text of the FCC’s order has not been released, many of the issues for consideration can be gleaned from the comments made at the FCC meeting. In the initial presentation made about the NPRM, it was stated that the principal issues to be addressed in the NPRM were:
- Allowing new primary allocations in the television spectrum for fixed and mobile wireless users.
- Providing a framework that would allow two or more broadcast television stations to share a single 6 MHz channel, retaining full must-carry rights for each station, while allowing for the return of spectrum to the FCC to be auctioned for wireless uses
- Looking at ways to increase the value of VHF television channels (channels 2 through 13) for DTV use, including proposals to allow stations operating on such channels to operate at higher power and to increase performance standards for indoor antennas
Co-primary uses could be important for many TV users, as currently LPTV and TV translator stations are secondary services, implying that such services might be preempted by new primary wireless users. The enhancement of the VHF spectrum would be important to any attempt to dedicate significant spectrum to wireless broadband without substantial disruption to over-the-air television, as without the use of those channels (which are underutilized, particularly in urban markets, as they have proved to be very susceptible to interference and do not provide as broad coverage as VHF analog service did), the ability to repack the TV spectrum to clear portions of the spectrum for wireless would be very restricted in the major metropolitan areas where any spectrum crunch is likely to be most acute.
As FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski stated, this was an efficient presentation on an important issue. The explanation of the proposals took far less time than each of the Commissioner’s individual statements, all of which raised important issues that will be addressed in this proceeding. The FCC public notice about this proceeding is available by clicking here. But an examination of each of the Commissioner’s statements (which are available through the links on their names, below) is important to understand the scope of the issues to be addressed by the FCC.