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FCC probes broadcasters' use of spectrum

The Federal Communications Commission wants television broadcasters to explain just how much spectrum they use and what they plan to do with it.

That's part of a notice sent today by the agency that attempts to explore the use of over-the-air broadcast spectrum for mobile broadband. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has said the country is facing a potential spectrum crisis, which is to say, there might not be enough radio waves for wireless high-speed Internet use as more consumers and businesses turn to mobile devices for computing.

Broadcasters, who are sitting on some of that choice spectrum, don't like the idea. They hope to find new businesses in mobile television and have said they need to keep the airwaves for those plans and to continue to serve the public with regular television programming.

Here are some of the questions the FCC is asking:

How do television broadcasters use the capabilities of digital television today? Please provide information on data rate allocations to HD, SD, multicast streams, bandwidth leasing arrangements, etc.and the business rationale behind these choices.

How do broadcasters plan to use licensed spectrum in the future?

What innovations in applications, services, or business models will create synergies
between broadband and broadcast services, or other new value from currently licensed
spectrum?

How should the Commission evaluate the future economic value of over-the-air digital
television and new capabilities to offer mobile TV broadcasting?

How does the financial community in general view that future value?

The FCC has identified a shortage of spectrum as a problem it needs to solve for its plans to bring high-speed Internet to all U.S. homes. The agency has been instructed by Congress to come up with a plan by February that would accomplish that goal, while also making access affordable.

By Cecilia Kang  |  December 2, 2009; 2:41 PM ET
Categories:  FCC , Spectrum  
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