FCC Prepares to Reassign TV Spectrum

The transition to digital broadcasting of television content freed up a lot of valuable radio spectrum, much of which the FCC auctioned off years ago for which it collected billions of dollars. Almost before the transition dust had settled, however, the FCC started to look longingly at some of the spectrum that had been assigned to the television broadcasters. The agency felt that it was not being used to its full capacity, and it might be more valuable if reassigned to other purposes, such as wireless broadband services to help expand high-speed network connections around the country. TV broadcasters objected, citing projects such as Mobile DTV that can transmit television content to mobile devices.

Now the FCC has taken the next step in reallocating parts of the radio spectrum. The agency published a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) that asks TV stations to voluntarily give up part of their assigned spectrum. The carrot in the deal is that the stations would likely share in the proceeds from the sale of this spectrum. It appears that there is no stick in this proposal, and television stations will be free to opt out of any reallocation if they choose.

The FCC is seeking public comment on how the extra spectrum should be used to support both fixed and mobile broadband services. You can find the details about Innovation in the Broadcast Television Bands: Allocations, Channel Sharing and Improvements to VHF at the FCC site.