While it’s summer in Washington and things should slow down, the discussion of the need for wireless spectrum for broadband, and the related question of whether to reclaim television spectrum for that use, continues unabated. This week, the FCC released a new report finding that between 14 and 24 million Americans have no access to broadband, and finding that a disproportionate number of those people are in rural areas. While this report to Congress is meant as a factual report on the status of broadband deployment, and not a document that details solutions to the lack of access, both the statement about the report from FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and the FCC Press Release summarizing the report, suggest that one way to address this shortcoming is to encourage the deployment of wireless broadband.
While the FCC did not, in these documents specifically mention the TV spectrum as a source for that wireless capacity, as we have written before, the FCC’s Broadband Plan looks to the television spectrum for the majority of the spectrum that they hope to reclaim for broadband use. Joining the FCC’s call for more spectrum was an even higher power. The White House recently issued a Presidential Memorandum supporting the idea that the FCC free up 500 mhz of spectrum for wireless broadband purposes. While the Memorandum tasked government agencies with finding ways to free spectrum that they are using to meet this perceived need, it also made clear that the government would look to meet part of the need by reclaiming spectrum from non-governmental users. And they are not the only ones getting into the Act.