11/27/2009 9:42 AM
McAdams On: South Carolina’s Leased Spectrum
Deb writes: "The state’s licenses belonged to its Educational TV organization, which for some reason had spectrum in the 2.5 GHz band--well out of TV territory."
That's spectrum allocated to ITFS—Instructional Television Fixed Service—originally intended to provide point to point or point to multi-point transmissions for educational institutions.
The FCC changed rules in the 1990's so ITFS licensees could lease spectrum to "wireless cable" operators like WANT TV and others, who used the channels to provide pay-tv services to subscribers, and the ITFS owners gained income and sometimes new facilities.
That was chronicled in an article published by Current.org, which follows public TV and Radio:
Telecom companies like MCI Worldcom and Sprint started snapping up the Wireless Cable providers, and in the case of WANT TV, eventually shut it down so it could re-purpose the ITFS spectrum for other uses.
What happened later is outlined in this 2006 story on "Current" here: http://www.current.org/tech/tech0607itfs-ebs.shtml
The article notes the telcom companies' acquisition of spectrum in the FCC's 1996 auctions... which IIRC is part of what led to broadcasters being bumped from their 2 GHz Newsgathering and Inter-City Relay facilities licensed as BAS (Broadcast Auxiliary Services.)
The FCC rules-change for ITFS created a new name for the ITFS spectrum—Educational Broadband Service.—and opened up the uses for other than one-direction video/audio distribution allowed under ITFS.
There's also a national organization for EBS licensees:
The page notes:
"Educational Broadband Service or EBS is used to describe flexible use service, a specific band/block of microwave frequencies, licensed to educational institutions or non-profit educational organizations for uses that are designed to accommodate a variety of fixed, portable, and mobile services relating to education and instruction. Licensees can also lease excess capacity to other entities so long as they meet educational programming requirements
This license can be used to provide educational content to schools and other educational locations using special transmission and reception equipment."
NEBSA adds, "... you could develop a revenue source from making your excess capacity available to the commercial operator; or you could obtain other telecommunications services offered by that commercial operator in exchange for your excess capacity; or some combination of the above.
The amount of services/revenue you may extract from this arrangement is based on a number of variables such as: your technology needs and plans, the size of your market, what services you choose to use, who the commercial operator may be, etc."
"A commercial telecommunications company may be willing to build and maintain your licensed spectrum as part of the larger wireless broadband system they will be building in your community.
In exchange for building and maintaining your system, they would want the ability to use your excess capacity for their business purposes. This type of arrangement can provide you with some new broadband capabilities as well as revenue. However, you will also have some responsibilities as a licensee."
Hope this provides some illumination on what those SCETV "way out of TV spectrum" licenses were about... and how that fits into the spectrum use picture, today.