FCC Adopts Balanced Spectrum Plan by Promoting Unlicensed Spectrum
FCC Adopts Balanced Spectrum Plan by Promoting Unlicensed Spectrum
FCC Adopts Balanced Spectrum Plan by Promoting Unlicensed Spectrum

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    Today, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted a plan for the upcoming “Incentive Auction” of television spectrum, under which broadcasters willing to give up some or all of their spectrum rights for auction will receive a portion of the auction proceeds. The incentive auction includes something called a “band plan,” that has implications for the unlicensed use of spectrum  

    The band plan will also protect three other important services that also operate in the existing TV bands on empty TV channels: unlicensed TV white spaces devices (sometimes referred to as “Super WiFi”), wireless microphones, and wireless medical telemetry devices. The plan would ensure that at least 20 MHz will be available in each market for these three services to share, subject to a further rule-making by the FCC to set the rules for sharing without interference.  

    The following statement may be attributed to Harold Feld, Senior Vice President, Public Knowledge:  

    “For 5 years, Public Knowledge has supported the concept of the Incentive Auction as a way to provide much needed spectrum for mobile broadband, expand the opportunity for unlicensed use in this powerful frequency band, while still protecting broadcast television and other services that also use band. 

    “The band plan for the Incentive Auction adopted today gives the American people a win-win-win of more licensed spectrum for mobile services, more open spectrum for 'Super WiFi' devices, while protecting broadcasters and other legacy uses of the TV spectrum. Open spectrum use such as WiFi already contributes more than $200 billion dollars a year to the American economy, and demand for more open spectrum continues to grow exponentially. The Commission's action today provides a way forward to meet this continued demand for better and more powerful WiFi and make possible the kind of innovation in devices and services that have given open spectrum the nickname “the innovation bands.”  

    “We still have a difficult summer ahead of us, developing the rules for sharing the open spectrum with other services such as wireless microphones for mobile news gathering. Had those with exclusive licensees responded to repeated offers from the unlicensed community to work together, we could now be much further down the road. Hopefully, the National Association of Broadcasters and other legacy users of the broadcast band, that continue to enjoy free exclusive use of the public airwaves will recognize that they can, in fact, share the public airwaves with the actual public.

    “I want to express my personal thanks to Chairman Wheeler for his courage and leadership. Time and again, resisting pressure to take the easy way out and throw open spectrum under the bus. Wheeler forced all parties and FCC staff to go back to the drawing board to find a way to thread the needle and deliver the “triple win” of more licensed spectrum, more open spectrum, and a vibrant free over the air television service.  

    Members of the media may contact Communications Director Shiva Stella with inquiries, interview requests, or to join the Public Knowledge press list at shiva@publicknowledge.org or 405-249-9435.