The FCC (News - Alert) is moving closer to auction off TV stations' licenses to provide more spectrum for mobile broadband providers by 2014.The topic will likely be discussed during the Sept. 28 FCC meeting about how to structure the proposed incentive auctions.
"In freeing up spectrum for wireless broadband, incentive auctions will drive faster speeds, greater capacity, and ubiquitous mobile coverage," FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski (News - Alert) said in a statement carried by the National Journal. "These are essential ingredients for innovation and leadership in the 21st century economy where smartphones and tablets powered by 4G LTE (News - Alert) and Wi-Fi networks are proliferating, and the mobile Internet becomes more important every day. Over the last few years, the U.S. has regained global leadership in mobile innovation -- and we must not let up now."
Under the current plan, TV stations would give up their spectrum, share spectrum with another station, or give up UHF spectrum for a VHF channel.
Among the ideas now being considered, the FCC may hold a "descending clock" auction, which would let stations give up their spectrum at one price, the National Journal said. Another option is to match stations with wireless firms that need spectrum in the local market, the report added.
The FCC also needs to consider whether it should create a "reserve price" for the auctions, according to news reports. That would lead to a maximum broadcasters could ask for in exchange for their spectrum.
The need for the auction comes as wireless carriers are facing increased demand on networks as there is increased use of smartphones and tablet computers. The Hill newspaper adds that if an insufficient number of TV stations take part in the auctions, the plan may fail.
It now appears that the FCC wants to put rules on the auctions in final form by next summer, The Wall Street Journal reported. There is some concern, too, that the auctions could hurt the initiative to create free, unlicensed televisions airwaves, according to the Journal. These would be used for wireless gadgets. The FCC may reserve some airwaves which could be used for the unlicensed uses.
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Edited by Amanda Ciccatelli