Another small advance in the question of what will happen with unused spectrum currently owned by broadcasters: today the FCC voted unanimously in support of a notice of proposed rulemaking to explore how to reallocate the spectrum for mobile use. “The explosive growth in mobile communications threatens to outpace the infrastructure,” said FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, quoted by Bloomberg. “If we don’t act to update our spectrum policies for the 21st century we’re going to run into a wall – a spectrum crunch.”
The FCC’s decision is not really a surprise: the Commission had already committed to freeing up 500 megahertz of spectrum in the next 10 years to be used for mobile broadband services, as part of a greater mobile broadband plan endorsed by President Obama, and the broadcasters, who do not currently use all their spectrum, were an obvious target.
But this is just a first step: laying out procedures for auctions, consulting with broadcasters, and proposing how the spectrum might ultimately get multiple uses, will all still take a number of years.
The broadcasters will be expected to lobby against the plans – claiming that proposals for services such as the MCV mobile TV venture will need that spectrum to work as well.