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Spectrum for Broadband Perspective

The digital television transition was still being sorted out when FCC officials floated a trail balloon about reallocating broadcast spectrum for a wireless broadband service. A debate immediately ensued, even as the use of white spaces--sporadically fallow frequencies within the TV band--was initiated. The last year has been a particularly contentious one for the airwaves...

January 7, 2009
: “FCC Asks for More Time on Broadband Plan”
The Federal Communications Commission is planning to miss its Feb. 17 deadline for presenting a nationwide broadband plan to Congress.

December 22, 2009
: “Broadcasters File en Masse Spectrum Comments”
Two dozen broadcast group owners representing 226 TV stations filed joint comments with the FCC in response to the possible reallocation of broadcast TV.

December 21, 2009
: “Broadcast Spectrum Comments Due Today”
The FCC’s Blair Levin first proffered the reallocation of broadcast spectrum for the wireless broadband plan.

December 16, 2009: “FCC Issues Broadband Plan Framework”
“Finding ways to better use existing assets, including Universal Service, rights-of-way, spectrum and others, will be essential to the success of the plan. The limited government funding that is available for broadband would be best used when leveraged with private sector investment,”

November 11, 2009: “Satellite Firms Shop Spectrum to FCC”
Two satellite companies have approached the FCC with a plan for freeing up spectrum for national wireless broadband.

October 26, 2009: “Broadcast Frequencies Deemed Easiest to Reallocate
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.

October 26, 2009: “Broadcasters Want Facts About Spectrum Demands”
“NAB and MSTV encouraged the FCC to consider all frequencies that may be suitable for wireless broadband, noting that frequencies above 3.7 GHz have been allocated for a variety of wireless services, including broadband applications. NAB also noted that broadcasters recently freed up more than 100 MHz of spectrum through the digital TV transition.”

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 27, 2009: “FCC Reroutes Broadband Over Powerlines”
The provision of broadband over power lines is back in the chute at the Federal Communications Commission after emerging from a court challenge leveled by ham radio operators. The commission is seeking further comments on a revision of the rules for BPL it set forth nearly five years ago.

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?

April 2, 2009: “FCC to Take Up Media Ownership at April Meeting”
Another notice seeking feedback on a national broadband plan will also be discussed among the three sitting commissioners--Robert McDowell, Jonathan Adelstein and Michael Copps, who’s serving as interim chairman while the president’s nominee, Julius Genachowski, gets vetted by the Senate.

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.

Additional resources:
The FCC Radio Frequency Chart
The commission’s “Online Table of Frequency Allocations.”