The FCC is looking at many different methods of
getting wireless broadband into the homes of rural Americans. One of
the methods being considered is taking
some of the airwaves currently allocated to TV broadcasters and
giving them to wireless broadband providers. The term give is too
strong, the airwaves are worth billions of dollars, and auctions
would be held to sell the airwaves if they were taken from
broadcasters and used for wireless broadband services.
is also looking at reallocating
the federal phone-subsidy program to allow some of the funds in
the program to be used to support wireless broadband services in
rural areas according to the Wall Street Journal. The fund in question is the Universal Service Fund
(USF), which is a federal program funded by consumers though a charge
on each phone bill. The funds are currently used to subsidize phone
service in rural areas and to provide service to low income homes.
Plans to revamp the USF in the past have been met with staunch
resistance by broadcasters and their supporters in Washington.
chairman Julius Genachowski said, "USF is a multibillion dollar
annual fund that continues to support yesterday's communications
infrastructure. We need to reorient the fund to support broadband
communications." The FCC is already working to identify airwaves
that could be reclaimed from broadcasters.
If the FCC moved
forward with the plan to take airwaves back from broadcasters,
estimates peg the cost of buying the airwaves back at $12 billion.
The estimated value of the airwaves when auctioned off to wireless
providers is estimated to be $64 billion.
"Much of what we see suggests that mobile broadband can be the
pre-eminent platform for innovation in the next decade. To be the
global leader in innovation 10 years from now, we need to lead the
world in wireless broadband. We will need to find ways to free up new
spectrum to mobile broadband. This will require examining old