CTIA makes a play for television auxiliary spectrum


Dennis Wharton
Congress has already authorized the FCC to repurpose spectrum in the television band for wireless broadband – and now the CTIA is asking to grab even more – it wants a chunk of the space broadcasters use to get information from remote locations to studios and from there to citizens.

CTIA believes it would be a good idea to reallocate spectrum in the 2095-2110 MHz band for its own constituents. The only problem would be the need to clear out incumbents – which happen to be broadcasters who use the spectrum to relay signals, for newscast feeds from remote locations among many other things.

NAB was surprised that it’s spectrum was once again a target of CTIA.

NAB’s Dennis Wharton (pictured) commented, “If CTIA’s request were not such a serious threat to public safety, it would be amusing. Every day, local TV stations use broadcast auxiliary spectrum (BAS) to provide breaking coverage of devastating storms, tornadoes, hurricanes and wildfires. If Superstorm Sandy demonstrated anything, it is that broadcast television serves as a lifeline in times of emergency, where cellphone/wireless architecture has failed.

“Just a few years after broadcasters returned 108 MHz and one-third of our BAS spectrum for wireless purposes — and just one day after comments were filed on incentive auctions to repurpose more TV airwaves to wireless — CTIA is demanding even more spectrum from broadcasters. NAB will work with the FCC to identify appropriate spectrum that meets the requirements of the statute without jeopardizing the safety of the American public.”

RBR-TVBR observation: It is a simple fact – broadcasters provide service during times of emergency that comes from no other medium, and in fact, does not even come from the government. Until cable and satellite start providing vital information, they should be more than happy to pay a fair retransmission fee to the broadcasters who make that information available to their subscribers.

And the same goes for digital services. Even if they were able to keep their infrastructure intact, they don’t have the boots on the ground to provide the service Americans have come to expect from broadcasters.

Congress and the FCC must keep this front and center during the constant assaults on broadcasters that come from these other media. Unless and until they can fulfill the critical role currently provided by broadcasters alone, they simply have no leg to stand on.