Today, Public Knowledge and 17 other organizations representing broadcasters, broadband providers, technology companies, consumer advocates and news reporters filed a joint letter asking the Federal Communications Commission to reconsider a proposal relating to the upcoming “Incentive Auction” of TV broadcast spectrum to wireless carriers. Last year, the FCC adopted a plan to provide sufficient wireless capacity in every market for wireless microphones used in news reporting and for innovative new Wi-Fi technologies.
The FCC Chairman has now circulated a new proposal that would eliminate use of one of these channels — called the “duplex gap” — in several major urban markets, such as Los Angeles. As the organizations signing the letter highlight, this last minute change of direction could compromise live news coverage and deal a significant blow to the development of Next Generation Wi-Fi.
The following statement may be attributed to Harold Feld, Senior Vice President at Public Knowledge:
“No one doubts the FCC has navigated a profoundly difficult course. The upcoming Incentive Auction promises not only to get much needed spectrum into the hands of wireless carriers, but also to provide a boost to the next generation of Wi-Fi technologies while preserving a vibrant, free over-the-air broadcast industry. But reaching this win/win/win result requires navigating between competing needs with laser-like precision. What looks like a minor effort to cut corners would have major impact on the broader ecosystem dependent on this spectrum.
“We can sympathize with the desire of the auction team to make this incredibly difficult job mildly less difficult by backtracking on the framework adopted last year. But what looks from the inside like a modest change to make the auction mechanics easier would potentially deprive the most congested urban areas of next generation Wi-Fi and would seriously impact the ability of broadcasters to provide live news coverage. The FCC must reject this suggested last-minute change and stick to the roadmap it approved last year if it wants to maximize the public benefits of this auction.”
A copy of the letter filed with the FCC is available here.
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