FCC Proposes Using Airwaves Between TV Channels

What do you do when it takes a long time to get TV stations to vacate the huge swaths of spectrum they occupy with their 1920’s technology analog radio broadcasts? The FCC, has proposed a solution that would assign the unused buffer zones between the TV channels as unlicensed spectrum. The proposal is an effort to increase the amount of open use frequencies of the sort that spawned WiFi, cordless phones, and many other innovations. The spectrum in question is considered desirable, since it is below 900MHz, and travels further than the 2.4GHz slice. Companies like Intel, which is betting big on wireless broadband services, are pushing for this proposal, while the TV broadcasters are lobbying against, citing interference issues (a paper Tiger) when the real issue is that they want to be the ones to capitalize on any use of the spectrum in and around their TV broadcasts. For the record, Broadcast TV is watched by almost no one. 90% of US households have voted with their dollars to get their programming through cable and satellite boxes, demonstrating that they are willing to pay NOT to receive over-the-air broadcasts, yet the US still dedicates over 400MHz of our most valuable spectrum to TV Broadcasts. So while we are in favor of using the buffers for unlicensed uses, let’s not lose sight of the bigger picture, which is getting analog TV off of the airwaves, and onto digital distribution systems.

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