Spectrum reallocation unnecessary to meet broadband plan goals

Massive spectrum reallocation like that being considered by the FCC as part of its National Broadband Plan is unnecessary, and any capacity shortage wireless carriers face can be successfully addressed “in numerous ways” that don’t involve spectrum, says a report filed April 25 by the NAB with the FCC.

The FCC National Broadband Plan calls for broadcasters to relinquish 120MHz of spectrum to meet what FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has alternately dubbed a looming “spectrum crisis” and “spectrum crunch” that will be created by increased consumer demand for wireless broadband services.

According to the new report, authored by former FCC official Uzoma Onyeije of Onyeije Consulting in Arlington, VA, allocating more spectrum to wireless carriers isn’t the best way to increase data capacity.

“Over the past four decades, spectrum reuse strategies have been over 60 times more useful in increasing data capacity when compared to spectrum assignments,” the report says.

The report, “Solving the Capacity Crunch – Options for Enhancing Data Capacity on Wireless Networks,” points out that greater spectral reuse “is an available and effective means of addressing wireless congestion,” especially when done with various non-spectrum alternatives.

Calling the spectrum crisis “factually revisionist,” the report asserts that wireless carriers do not have a nationwide spectrum shortage, but rather face “a capacity crunch in a limited number of locations,” and wireless carriers as well as the FCC have a number of tools at their disposal to deal with the matter.

The report lays out a variety of steps carriers can take to relieve any capacity crunch, including deployment of innovative network technology to promote spectral efficiency; transition of voice traffic to IP; taking advantage of consumer technology like femtocells and WiFi; and infrastructure spending to deploy multiantenna signal processing, picocells, distributed antenna systems and other specific steps.

The commission also should take concrete steps to relieve any crunch, including “reclaiming hundreds of megahertz from speculators and warehouse;” finishing and releasing to the public a spectrum inventory; increasing licensing flexibility; establishing receive standards; and making other spectrum sources available for wireless broadband use.

The paper was filed with the FCC in response to a request for comments on potential reallocation of broadcast spectrum.

Phil Kurz

Phil Kurz is a contributing editor to TV Tech. He has written about TV and video technology for more than 30 years and served as editor of three leading industry magazines. He earned a Bachelor of Journalism and a Master’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism.