Wireless Lobbies Ask FCC to Clear TV From Ch. 51
March 21, 2011
two major wireless industry lobbies have asked federal regulators to boot broadcasters
off Channel 51. CTIA--The Wireless Association and the Rural Cellular
Association have filed a petition with the Federal Communications Commission
asking for a license freeze on Ch. 51, and to eventually clear the bandwidth
for their constituents. The lobbies say broadcasters on the frequency are
interfering with adjacent-channel wireless service.
“Petitioners requests that the commission: Revise its rules to prohibit future
licensing of TV broadcast stations on Ch. 51; implement freezes, effective
immediately, on the acceptance, processing and grant of applications for new or
modified broadcast facilities seeking to operate on Ch. 51; and accelerate
clearance of Ch. 51 where incumbent broadcasters reach voluntary agreements to
relocate to an alternate channel,” the petition states.
Channel 51 lies at the top end of the broadcast TV spectrum swath at 698 MHz.
Broadcasters also previously transmitted on Chs. 52-69, but those licenses were
reallocated for wireless service in the wake of the DTV transition. The FCC
auctioned them off in “blocks” three years ago. Ch. 51 is adjacent to the A
Block, consisting of 176 licenses at 698 to 704 MHz, and 728 to734 MHz.
A Block winners included Verizon, which snagged 25 licenses; U.S. Cellular,
also 25; Cavalier, 23; CenturyTel, 21; Cell South, 14; Cox, 14, Continuum, 10,
LL License, five; Triad, four; Miller, three; and others with fewer than three.
Two are scheduled to be re-auctioned in July--one for 12 MHz in Wheeling, W.V.,
and another for 12 MHz in Lubbock, Texas.
The CTIA, the
of which include Verizon, Cox and Cavalier among others, used the
Administration’s goal of creating nationwide wireless broadband as
justification for booting broadcasters from Ch. 51. The Obama FCC has proposed
taking another 120 MHz of broadcast spectrum and reallocating it for wireless
“The National Broadband Plan emphasized the deployment of additional spectrum
for wireless broadband spectrum as key policy objective of the Commission.
While the 700 MHz spectrum in particular is ideally suited for innovative
wireless broadband services, licensees in the A Block face technical challenges
caused by the presence of broadcast TV services on Ch. 51,” the filing said.
“In light of the significant spectrum crunch and the exponentially increasing
demand for mobile broadband services in the United States, consumers cannot
afford to have the use of licensed wireless broadband spectrum prevented by the
threat of future harmful interference.”
It’s the broadcasters who are legally protected from harmful interference
caused by the A Block winners, notes Mitchell Lazarus at Fletcher, Heald &
“The wireless companies could have solved their problem, in principle, by
leaving the lower part of A Block vacant as a guard band,” he wrote. “That
would cost a lot of money. Instead, despite not having paid for it, they want
the 6 MHz of Ch. 51 to be vacant.”
Lazarus said the petition had not yet been put out for comment by the FCC.
-- Deborah D. McAdams