Not to be outdone by the U.S. government estimates that spectrum currently set aside for digital TV transmission is worth $27.8 billion, CTIA and the Consumer Electronic Association said those airwaves were worth $33 billion. The inflated valuation estimates, like the inflated fears of a spectrum shortage, are all aiming to get more airwaves in the hands of those who would use them to deploy mobile broadband. Under a plan proposed last week by President Obama, broadcasters could give up their used airwaves in their markets and in turn receive a cut of whatever the government nets for that spectrum at auction.
The plan details — and the estimates of the spectrum’s worth– are by no means certain. Determining valuation will require an actual auction and rules around the spectrum that will either enhance or diminish its value, as well as for Congress to pass a law allowing the government to split the proceeds. At this point, analysts and sources inside the FCC put that chance at about 50-50. So, while CTIA’s estimates of scoring $0.978 for every megahertz covering a single member of the population sound lovely, they’re still pie in the sky until we get a law enabling an incentive auction to proceed and rules that will determine how a winner can use the spectrum it buys. However, given that the 700Mhz auction netted the feds 1.03 for MHz/POP from Verizon and more on a MHz/POP basis from AT&T, CTIA and CES may not be out of the ballpark on their estimates, as long as the auctions take place.
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