SBE brands CTIA proposal for 2GHz BAS band 'reckless'

The Society of Broadcast Engineers has written the FCC urging the agency to reject a proposal from CTIA, the Wireless Association, recommending that part of 2GHz Broadcast Auxiliary Service band used for ENG be reallocated for commercial wireless use.

A letter dated March 18 from SBE president Ralph Hogan to the five FCC commissioners labels the CTIA proposal to reallocate 15MHz of spectrum (2095MHz-2100MHz) for wireless use as a “reckless suggestion.”

If implemented, the CTIA proposal would have serious consequences for remote news coverage in large and medium-sized TV markets, precluding “all local news coverage of events,” the letter said.

“In point of fact, CTIA could not have made a worse choice in terms of spectrum for future mobile broadband use below 5GHz,” the letter said. “CTIA would deprive television viewers, regardless of their chosen delivery method (over-the-air broadcast television, cable, fiber or satellite) of the ability to view events as they happen and to respond to them appropriately.”

The letter added that reallocating the 15MHz of the BAS spectrum would preclude coverage of “virtually all televised sports and major events” because they “absolutely cannot be aired without access to the entire 2025-2110 MHz band in all markets.”

According to Hogan, the CTIA proposal either demonstrates a lack of candor or a lack of understanding of the 2GHz BAS band. The 2GHz BAS band is “used every day, all day and night, in all television markets to bring live, breaking news, sports and live event coverage” to TV viewers, regardless of whether they watch over-the-air or via cable, IPTV or satellite.

Further, Hogan said, SBE, not CTIA, is uniquely situated to understand and explain to the commission the important role the 2GHz BAS band plays. For the past 40 years, the letter said, SBE coordination of the band “has achieved the ultimate degree of spectrum efficiency and compatible sharing with literally huge volumes of users, both local and temporary itinerant uses.”

If not for SBE’s coordination of the band, broadcasters, cablecasters and video production licensees in the Local Television Transmission Service “would never be able to share the seven, 12MHz bandwidth channels available in each market for digital electronic news gathering (ENG),” Hogan said in the letter.

“There simply are not enough channels so that local television and cable facilities can have one,” the letter said.