Spectrum Bill Would Auction Public Safety Spectrum

The Society for Broadcast Engineers (SBE) and the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) have concerns about a bill recently introduced in the House of Representatives H.R.607 -- Broadband for First Responders Act of 2011.

HR607 would clear all public safety spectrum above 170 MHz and below 512 MHz, and auction this and some additional spectrum to obtain funds for transitioning public safety communications to the 763-768 and 793-798 MHz bands. The additional spectrum is what SBE and the ARRL are concerned about: UHF frequencies 420-440 MHz (which is shared between the federal government and amateur radio operators) and the 450-470 MHz band (2 MHz of which is used by broadcasters for remote broadcasting, cuing, intercoms, transmitter remote control and other purposes).

One thing I haven't seen mentioned is the auction of the public safety spectrum on UHF Channels 14 to 20.

It seems to me this could be an ideal opportunity to free up some lower UHF spectrum to help broadcasters that would be forced off channels above 30 in the plan that the CEA and CTIA presented in the white paper that I discuss in another article this week.

The biggest problem in any channel restacking scheme is going to be finding channels for stations in the top markets—the same markets where public safety spectrum is in the lower UHF TV band. Giving these channels back to broadcasters avoids the problems of high power TV stations causing interference to wireless operations on adjacent UHF channels and the wireless operations causing interference to nearby TV devices.

Doug Lung

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.