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NAB against FCC deploying variable band plan after auction

The NAB has told the FCC that variable band plans in a post-auction world will not adequately address the interference issues between broadcasters and wireless carriers on co-channels and adjacent channels in neighboring markets. However, the broadcasters said last week, the “Down from 51 Reversed” plan is best as an alternative because it exacerbates the problems the least.

After the FCC released a plan that combines broadcast and wireless operators, broadcasters and some major wireless carriers joined to oppose it, claiming it would cause interference. The FCC argued that its plan includes the flexibility to recover varying amounts spectrum in different markets.

That’s when the NAB and the wireless carriers introduced their own “Down From 51” plan, which seeks to maximize paired allocations and build guard bands only to meet engineering necessity.

The FCC then asked for comment on that plan and others. That included a “Down From 51 Reversed” plan, which would reverse the uplink and downlink.

NAB, in comments filed last week, wrote that even with the “Down from 51 Reversed” plan, inadequate interference planning could undermine the spectrum auction. One of those who signed off on the NAB position was Rick Kaplan, the former wireless bureau chief under former FCC chairman Julius Genachowski.

“If the Wireless Bureau continues to be locked into market variability it must, as a precursor, rigorously evaluate the issues raised throughout the record concerning co- and adjacent-channel interference and its impact on the proposed band plans,” the NAB wrote. Only then, the broadcast lobbying organization said, can the FCC know whether variability is possible from a real-world engineering standpoint.

When the original “Down from 51” plan was introduced, the NAB was joined by wireless companies. In this version, it filed the comments alone, without the wireless companies backing. This may signal differences in the parties’ positions.