10.26.2009 12:00 PM
Broadcast Frequencies Deemed Easiest to Reallocate
SpectralWASHINGTON: The latest salvo in the intensifying battle over spectrum is a research paper that asserts broadband is a more cost-effective use than broadcasting. The conclusion of the Coleman Bazelon of The Brattle Group is that the radio frequencies used for broadcast would be the easiest to reallocate for broadband, and bring about $62 billion at auction. The research was commissioned by the Consumer Electronics Association.

“Spectrum below about 3 GHz is most valuable for mobile communications...,” Bazelon wrote. “About 22 percent of all frequencies below 3 GHz are allocated as licensed and available for mobile broadband uses. That implies that there are likely significant opportunities for additional allocations of licensed radio spectrum for broadband uses.”

Broadcast television is in sub-3 GHz territory, along with mobile satellite, radio location, aviation navigation, ham operation, maritime communications and a host of government uses. Bazelon argues that broadcasting would be the easiest spectrum to reallocate. E.g., taking Channel 37, which is now dedicated to astronomy, “would require valuing the benefits from the science that relies on those frequencies--a truly courageous exercise.”

“If it were possible to continue to do science using those frequencies by placing radio astronomy equipment on the dark side of the moon, then one measure of the opportunity cost of using those frequencies on earth would be the cost of such facilities. That cost would likely be prohibitively expensive for the benefit of freeing 6 MHz of spectrum. Other bands would be less expensive to free up,” he writes.

Reallocating frequencies used by the government would require knowing precisely what they’re used for. “Unfortunately, there is no good accounting of those frequencies,” he said, though legislation calling for a thorough spectrum inventory is circulating on Capitol Hill.

Ideally, the cost of freeing up all the spectrum should be analyzed for any  reallocations, but Bazelon said that was “beyond the scope” of his research, which focused instead on broadcast. “These frequencies may or may not be the least expensive to free up,” he said.

Using a formula that assigns a per-household value to each TV channel, then subtracts cable and satellite carriage, Bazelon comes up with a market value of $12 billion for over-the-air broadcasting. That amount would presumably be reimbursed to broadcasters from the projected $62 billion in auction proceeds under a reallocation scheme. Another option would be to port all over-the-air households over to a pay service at an estimated cost of around $9 billion. Bazelon does not mention household willingness to continue paying a monthly fee for TV.

He does, however, mention the socioeconomic benefits of broadband on production and employment--300,000 jobs for every 1 percent increase in broadband penetration. He also cites an environmental impact study that links broadband penetration with the reduction of greenhouse gases. He also said that demand for mobile data is expected to grow 125 percent annually “over the next few years, and at rates 100 times greater than voice traffic will grow over the next decade.”

In conclusion, Bazelon says the $62 billion broadband valuation versus $12 billion for broadcast is evidence that “radio spectrum is currently inefficiently allocated.” The said another $50 million would be gained from commerce applications, and consumers would benefit to the tune of between $500 billion and $1.2 trillion from “cost savings and increased usage... for existing services and new services that can only be developed and offered in a more spectrum abundant marketplace.”

Bazelon’s paper comes hot on the heels of an FCC trail balloon gauging interest in the broadcast industry with regard to trading in licenses for cash. Commission advisor Blair Levin reportedly floated the idea to several broadcasters in recent weeks, to a somewhat cool response. Broadcasters just finished the multi-billion dollar task of transitioning to digital transmissions, and are now in full-fledged mobile DTV deployment mode.

The commission is under a presidential mandate to create nationwide broadband, for which spectrum must be allocated. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), who is sponsoring a spectrum inventory bill, told The Hill newspaper that broadcasters should spectrum reallocation seriously.

“They should be worried, and everyone else should be worried,” he said.

FCC chief Julius Genachowski intends to present a nationwide broadband plan by February.

(Image by T.W. Collins)

Additional resources:
The FCC radio frequency allocation chart.

The commission’s “Online Table of Frequency Allocations.”

Bazelon’s paper, “The Need for Additional Spectrum for Wireless Broadband: The Economic Benefits and Costs of Reallocation.”

More from TVB:
October 22, 2009: Virginia Town Exemplifies White Space Usage”
The community of Claudville, Va., is quintessentially “unserved,” an archetype for using TV spectrum for wireless broadband.

October 13, 2009: The Winds of Spectrum War
The impetus of the digital TV transition was to free up spectrum for wireless carriers, but what seemed sufficient when the effort began is no longer the case.

October 12, 2009: FCC Grants Microsoft White Space Licenses
Microsoft now has an experimental license to use TV channels around Redmond, Wash., for testing unlicensed devices.

September 28, 2009
: Broadband Spectrum Feedback Sought
“We seek additional comment on the fundamental question of whether current spectrum allocations, including but not limited to the prime bands below 3.7 GHz, are adequate to support near- and longer-term demands of wireless broadband.”

Sept. 17, 2009: Legislators Press for Spectrum Inventory
Legislators and regulators alike agreed that an inventory was in order.

July 13, 2009: Boucher Proffers House Spectrum Bill
Lawmakers in the House of Representatives have rolled out a bill that would initiate a radio spectrum inventory.

April 10, 2009: “National Broadband Plan Includes Wireless and TV White Spaces
“Given the importance to wireless broadband services of backhaul to the PSTN and the Internet, how can this spectrum be maximized to provide point-to-point backhaul in rural areas?

February 6, 2009: Boeing Receives Experimental License in TV Broadcast Spectrum
The WE2XVQ experimental license issued to the Boeing Company allows operation in.... broadcast TV VHF channels 11, 12 and 13 and all UHF TV channels except 37.


Comments
Post New Comment
If you are already a member, or would like to receive email alerts as new comments are
made, please login or register.

Enter the code shown above:

(Note: If you cannot read the numbers in the above
image, reload the page to generate a new one.)

1.
Posted by: Deborah McAdams
Thu, 33-29-2009 01:33 AM Report Comment
I think the CEA wasted its money. Mr. Bazelon betrays a striking amount of ignorance in a relatively short statement. He makes reference to the "dark side of the moon." The moon has no dark side; there is literally no such thing. He should have said the "back side of the moon" or the "far side of the moon." He says, "there is no good accounting of those frequencies ... " Nonsense. Every bit of spectrum below 300 GHz is allocated in accordance with a plan maintained by the NTIA, US Department of Commerce, The FCC has paperwork for every licensee. (If they've just let the papers pile up in a stack, I'm not going to lose any sleep over it. Let Bazelon sort them.) He talks about $62 billion in auction proceeds. Is this magic money? No, it's taxes on the end user. Every penny in spectrum auction money must be paid by the end users. Imagine, if you will, presenting a business plan for telecommunications that contained no provision to recoup the costs of spectrum. You would be laughed out of the meeting, out of the building and out of the industry ... you'd be a disgrace and you'd deserve to be. As for broading being easy to relocate, if he can his pants and crap out a new transmitter and antenna for anybody, I want some pictures to prove it




Thursday 10:05 AM
NAB Requests Expedited Review of Spectrum Auction Lawsuit
“Broadcasters assigned to new channels following the auction could be forced to accept reductions in their coverage area and population served, with no practical remedy.” ~NAB

Wall Street Communications /   Friday 06:11 PM
Primestream Products on Display at CAPER 2014:
Wall Street Communications /   Friday 04:13 PM
Wohler Products at CCW 2014

 
Featured Articles
Exhibitions & Events
Discover TV Technology