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NAB offers border spectrum coordination proposal

NAB offered a five-point proposal March 7, aimed at helping the FCC to resolve spectrum coordination issues with Canada and Mexico so that the agency’s incentive auction and repacking of TV spectrum in the United States can move forward.

In a letter to the heads of the FCC’s Incentive Auction Task Force, International Bureau, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau and Media Bureau, Rick Kaplan, NAB executive VP, Strategic Planning, said coordination with the U.S. neighbors prior to conducting the auction is a significant requirement of the Spectrum Act.

According to the letter, nearly 45 percent of all full-power TV broadcasters, some 795 stations, in the United States operate within the 250-mile coordination zone with Canada. Without revising existing agreements with both nations there will be “far less spectrum repurposed and far less money for the U.S. Treasury,” Kaplan wrote.

NAB’s proposal addresses cross-border issues that “stand in the way of a truly successful auction,” the letter said.

The proposal calls for:

  • Identifying how many non-operational channel allotments are currently being protected by the three nations and proposing to Canada and Mexico to use them to find new pre-approved, pre-coordinated channels for repacked U.S. stations along the border.
  • Expediting detailed technical and repacking analyses to determine the size of the challenge along the borders. Such studies could help determine how many broadcast volunteers are needed to meet a reasonable target for spectrum clearing and the reverse auction.
  • Studying the potential impact of Canadian and Mexican TV transmission on future U.S. mobile broadband operation and vice versa.
  • Developing technical sharing criteria between broadband operations and existing TV stations.
  • Engaging with Canada and Mexico on a long-term 600MHz-band plan across the borders.

“Any delay in this critical element of pre-auction planning will also delay the auction, limit new available spectrum for wireless broadband, reduce the auction proceeds and diminish OTA television service for viewers near the border,” Kaplan wrote.