The Federal Communications Commission voted 5-0 to write rules which will eventually take away spectrum from major broadcasters in order to allocate more airwaves for mobile broadband.
This is part of the long-term plan by the FCC to avoid a crunch – as more and more people use mobile devices to get on line, there is much fear that there isn’t enough available specturm to keep up with demand. The FCC is ultimately looking to free up to 500 MHz of spectrum for wireless broadband over the next 10 years for mobile broadband purposed.
“The explosive growth in mobile communications threatens to outpace the infrastructure,” said FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, according to Bloomberg. “If we don’t act to update our spectrum policies for the 21st century we’re going to run into a wall — a spectrum crunch.”
Today’s FCC vote will try and find ways for broadcasters to use their allocated spectrum more efficiently. Additionally, this will lay the groundwork for establishing the method for broadcasters to get paid for voluntarily relinquishing spectrum.
Of course, this is going to lead to a big lobbying fight because the broadcasters also have a lot of money and a lot to lose if much of the airwaves are reallocated. These companies also just gave up a chunk of spectrum with the digital TV transition, so I’d imagine the broadcasters don’t want to lose more.
Still, I agree with the FCC because we do need some more airwaves for wireless broadband. I don’t think the federal agency should simply bow to the telecoms though, as this additional spectrum should come with open access requirements and efficiency standards.
Although the process could take up to a decade to complete, time may be of the essence because a new presidential administration could have a major impact on the direction of the FCC.