Time Warner Cable: Spectrum squatter


Cable giant Time Warner Cable recently reported a successful fourth quarter, riding increased subscription fees and demand for digital, video and voice services. One area where it is content to stand pat, however, is its holdings of AWS spectrum, which it plans to neither sell nor immediately develop. NAB’s Gordon Smith is calling foul and asking for a long-promised spectrum inventory.

Smith fired off a letter to key Hill legislators – Commerce chairs Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Fred Upton (R-MI), and ranking members Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) and Henry Waxman (D-CA) to call attention to TWC’s AWS non-plan.

According to Communications Daily, TWC plans to conduct low-cost experiments in the wireless arena, and its COO Rob Marcus noted that at the moment, it has no plans to sell, lease or use its AWS spectrum.

Smith reminded the legislators that broadcasters have already returned 108 MHz of valuable spectrum to the FCC as part of the DTV transition, and said that “…allowing companies the size of Time Warner to hoard airwaves should not be permitted.”

Smith concluded, “NAB strongly encourages passage of thorough spectrum inventory legislation that identifies what companies and government agencies may be sitting on unused airwaves. If we as a nation are truly committed to unlocking the technological potential of wireless broadband, we must first get a full and accurate accounting of the spectrum users and spectrum warehousers.”

Cable companies and telco companies are both reported to be sitting on billions of dollars of spectrum that is currently lying fallow. A recent report called out Verizon and AT&T for spectrum squatting, and our story traces a history that goes back to Verizon honcho Ivan Seidenberg suggesting that there may in fact be no spectrum crunch at all.

RBR-TVBR observation: Is it because many FCC employees have a TV in the house that they seem to think the television band is the only place where there is any spectrum? The FCC scratches its head – where is there some open spectrum, it wonders? The FCC just opened the door for unlicensed devices in the TV band, and yet still it keeps tucking in its napkin and bellying up to the TV space, knife and fork in hand, while report after report notes that telcos and cable companies are squatting on unused spectrum. Bring on the full spectrum inventory, already!