SpectrumEvolution encouraged by spectrum opportunities

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Last week’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) proves more than ever that unless a “one-to-many” model is quickly incorporated into mobile broadband services, Americans are doomed to an ongoing and disabling spectrum shortage that no repurposing or incentive auction will be able to relieve. SEO is an advocacy group promoting fair, plausible and intelligent broadcast spectrum policy – emphasizing that spectrum use should “evolve” and be driven primarily by private entrepreneurial creativity and marketplace forces, rather than by the opinions or visions of government planners.


Of most interest at CES were the many mobile television ATSC M/H receivers, including those that enable reception on iPhones/iPads, and which in short order, will provide free-to-air and clear-to-air digital mobile TV programming in many parts of the country. We are encouraged by the dramatic progress which has been made in mobile DTV receiver technology and the potential for a very near-term rollout of services. We are even more encouraged by the essential role that Class A and Low Power Television (LPTV) must play for mobile DTV to provide national coverage and a truly robust and diverse content offering. We look forward to working with other stakeholders to ensure this happens immediately and that all Americans, in markets both large and small, receive the unique benefits of free mobile DTV.

The ongoing discussions relating to broadcast spectrum auctions at CES, have further illuminated the immediate need for flexible use of the broadcast spectrum and unleashing broadcasters so that private entrepreneurial creativity can contribute to meeting the demand for broadband services. The New York
Times reported on January 9, 2012, that just 1% of consumers, use 50% of broadband capacity; 10% are using 90% of bandwidth; and heavy users spend 40% of their time watching videos. In other words, there is no shortage at all if the activities of heavy users can be diverted from an inefficient and wasteful
one-to-one model to a far more efficient one-to-many model, which broadcasters have the experience and the know-how to provide.

Chairman Genachowski’s address to the conference provided no new insight or specific guidance to the industry about what is now being called “VIA” (Voluntary Incentive Auctions). “At CES, FCC chair warns of mobile ‘spectrum crunch’–for the third time” (http://www.cnet.com/8301-33363_1-57357611/at-ces-fcc-chair-warns-of-mobile-spectrum-crunch-for-the-third-time/#ixzz1jYEXyLcP).

SEO believes and agrees that the FCC should be actively developing immediate actionable policies to allow interested incumbent licensees to provide broadband services now, as opposed to waiting up to 10 years, as Commissioner McDowell stated in his remarks at CES. It is most promising to witness a shift in attitude by both the industry and regulators, which recognizes the inherent benefits of allowing broadcasters to activate now, to help with any actual or perceived future shortage of mobile broadband capacity. If the regulatory shackles are removed from broadcasters, we can start providing mobile broadband services, almost immediately!

SEO, which has been both a driver and thought leader in this space, continues to believe that its longstanding aspirations to allow non-interfering Universal Flex Use (UFU), by incumbent broadcast licensees, could directly benefit the new crop of mobile consumer electronics which were shown at this year’s CES. Broadcast spectrum, properly enabled in the hands of those who already have it, is an immediate solution to the every increasing number of bandwidth hungry mobile devices that U.S. consumers want. It will also allow consumer demand to dictate the pace and extent of spectrum repurposing, instead of government planners telling consumers what is best for them. All that is missing is an innovation friendly regulatory environment. For additional information, log on to www.SpectrumEvolution.org.

— Greg Herman, President SpectrumEvolution.org


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Carl has been with RBR-TVBR since 1997 and is currently Managing Director/Senior Editor. Residing in Northern Virginia, he covers the business of broadcasting, advertising, programming, new media and engineering. He’s also done a great deal of interviews for the company and handles our ever-growing stable of bylined columnists.