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FCC may play Robin Hood taking form rich broadcasters and giving to the poor mobile broadband providers

The FCC is considering many ways to increase the amount of available wireless spectrum to be had for wireless broadband service. According to the FCC and others, the country is already facing a looming shortage of airwaves to support broadband.

One of the plans on the table for the FCC to consider would have it taking back a portion of the airwaves that TV broadcasters are currently using and auctioning those off to wireless broadband providers. Blair Levin, the person in charge of crafting the FCC national broadband plan said, "The record is very clear that we're facing a looming spectrum gap."

It is not clear at this early stage if the proposal to take some of the airwaves away from TV broadcasters will make it to the final FCC national broadband plan or not. The final plan is set to be released in January. What is clear is that if the taking back of broadcaster airwaves does make the final plan, broadcasters will fight.

The National Association of Broadcasters spokesman Dennis Wharton said, "[The NAB] believes it is imperative that policy makers explore spectrum efficiency choices that don't limit consumer access to the full potential of digital broadcasting."

The FCC would not simply take the airwaves away and would reportedly spend about $12 billion to buy the airwaves back and $9 billion to move homes using OTA TV to digital or subscription services. However, the auction for the reclaimed spectrum would net the FCC as much as $62 billion.

The homes relying on these airwaves are also likely to be among those that just purchased new TVs or converter boxes during the digital transition that happened this summer adding more confusion and expense for them. Wharton continued saying, "CEA's study ignores the immeasurable public benefit of a vibrant free and local broadcasting system that is ubiquitous, reliable as a lifeline service in times of emergency, and flexible enough to include HDTV, diverse multicast programming and mobile DTV."

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What are you people smoking?
By Donovan on 10/28/2009 1:14:56 PM , Rating: 5
Why is everyone acting like the FCC is going to shut down broadcast TV? When we started using digital TV we gained the ability to fit multiple channels in the same space as a single analog channel. Several of the major networks have been using this to offer dedicated news or weather channels, PBS stations usually have multiple channels, and there are even completely unrelated stations being multiplexed together (probably to avoid paying for their own broadcast equipment).

The VHF spectrum should have been removed from broadcast TV when we did the all-digital UHF spectrum can carry far more channels than analog VHF+UHF ever did. It also simplifies rooftop antennas since a VHF antenna is much larger than a comparable UHF one. If a classic rooftop antenna (log-periodic VHF with corner-reflector Yagi UHF) is around 120" long by 80" wide, the equivalent UHF-only antenna would be more like 40" long by 20" wide and cost that much less.

RE: What are you people smoking?
By JediJeb on 10/28/2009 1:48:29 PM , Rating: 2
The problem I really have is with analog I got way more channels over the air than I can get with digital since I am at least 40 miles from the nearest transmitters. Also when bad weather is happening on analog I could at least hear the warnings through static if I could not see the video, but with digital it is all or nothing, heavy rain kills the signal and that is one of the times I need it most.

I would rather see them give that stations a little more power to boost their power and start broadcasting some of the cable channels over the air instead of taking away ota spectrum. Or reform the satelite providers so I don't have to pay over $50 a month to get the three channels I want and a ton of things like the music only channels I never listen to. If it has commercials it aught to be free, I wouldn't mind paying for premium channels that don't have commercials if I wanted to get them.

RE: What are you people smoking?
By Donovan on 10/28/2009 7:04:15 PM , Rating: 2
I agree about broadcast power...some of the stations need to boost their digital signals. I was hoping that would happen after the changeover but it doesn't seem to have changed.

As for cable channels going OTA, I assume it doesn't make financial sense or they would already be doing it. Offering channels a la carte would make more sense, but then current customers would want to drop the stations they never wanted and get a price break.

If we did consolidate on UHF, it would make it easier for people in your situation to purchase a deep-fringe antenna that can pick up the signal from that distance. I'm also 40 miles away and my antennas are effectively attic-mounted, but I can get all the UHF stations with a 40" corner reflector Yagi. I had to buy a 10' Yagi to get the high-VHF.

RE: What are you people smoking?
By mindless1 on 10/29/2009 3:11:25 AM , Rating: 2
On the one hand I feel everyone should have access to public television but on the other, unless you are chained to the foundation of your home you choose where to live and if that location is away from lakes you don't get easy access to a lake, if it is away from snowy hills you don't get easy access to skiing, if it's away from McDonalds no Big Mac for you, and if it's away from TV transmitters...

"It looks like the iPhone 4 might be their Vista, and I'm okay with that." -- Microsoft COO Kevin Turner
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