Pushing Broadcasters To Free Up Spectrum
from the it's-about-time-something-was-done dept
In all the discussions over wireless spectrum, the elephant in the room continues to be the incredible amount of spectrum TV broadcasters have had for years, given to them for free, which they don’t want to give up. The spectrum was originally given to them to get them to move to digital broadcasts, but it was set up in a way that made it easy for the broadcasters to hang onto the spectrum for as long as they wanted: until 85% of the country had equipment to receive digital broadcasts, the broadcasters could keep the spectrum. In other words, all of the incentives were for the broadcasters to drag their feet — which is exactly what they’ve done. Now John McCain is trying to push the issue by allocating $1 billion to help more people get digital receivers for their TVs. While a billion seems like a lot, it’s nothing compared to what the freed up spectrum is likely to be worth in a variety of ways. Some of it is likely to be auctioned off for a lot more than $1 billion, and other portions can (hopefully) be opened up for open spectrum purposes, which should drive a variety of new wireless technologies, services and applications. The spectrum situation with the broadcasters is a complete mess. At this point, just about anything to get some of that spectrum back from the broadcasters seems like a good plan.