Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg told a gathering that he was not particularly in favor of repurposing television spectrum to forward the availability of wireless broadband, and also noted that cable companies are currently sitting on a great deal of unused spectrum.
Responding to a question about the need for broadcasters to surrender spectrum, Seidenberg said, “Cable companies have bought spectrum over the last 10 or 15 years that’s been lying fallow. They haven’t been using it. So here the FCC is out running around looking for new sources of spectrum, and we’ve got probably 150 megahertz of spectrum sitting out there that people own that aren’t being built on. I don’t get that. This annoys me.”
He actually endorsed continued broadcast usage of its current spectrum swathe, saying, “My reaction is going to surprise you. I don’t think the FCC should tinker with this. I think the market’s going to settle this. So in the long term, if we can’t show that we have applications and services to utilize that spectrum better than the broadcasters, then the broadcasters will keep the spectrum.”
Seidenberg also suggested that the projected need for more spectrum for wireless may or may not prove to be correct. He said that the tech wizards often solve problems, such as how to squeeze more performance out of less spectrum, taking the urgency out of reallocation.
RBR-TVBR observation: In Washington you can never tell, but it still seems to us that any attempt to grab television spectrum will happen later rather than sooner, if at all. There is a strong movement in Congress to execute a full spectrum inventory prior to any major reallocation effort, to say nothing of all of the other mechanisms that promise to slow the process down.
This is not to say that broadcasters should not fiercely defend their spectrum – quite the opposite. It will often be broadcasters who bring the mechanisms into play. And the absolute strongest move broadcaster can make is to take new digital capabilities and prove beyond any shadow of a doubt that they are an essential and indispensible component of the media universe of the 21st Century.