FCC Chief Proposes TV Stations Sell Spectrum for Wireless

fcc chair proposes new net neutrality rules 2 juliusgenachowski

Part of the United States’ purpose in transitioning to digital television was to free up the spectrum used by over-the-air analog television broadcasts for use by cool new mobile broadband technologies—and although Clearwire is earnestly building out WiMax and LTE has yet to appear in the U.S. market, already mobile operators and the FCC itself are warning of a looming “spectrum crisis” wherein there won’t be enough space in the electromagnetic spectrum to support all the cool mobile things everybody wants to do—at least, not without interfering with each other and causing all sorts of chaos. To help alleviate the pressure, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has unveiled a component of the agency’s forthcoming National Broadband Plan: a “Mobile Future Auction” that would see television broadcasters in spectrum-constrained markets able to voluntarily give up their spectrum licenses to mobile operators in exchange for a cut of the proceeds from future auction sales.

Speaking at the New America Foundation Wednesday (PDF), Chairman Genachowski outlined what the industry is seeing as a “looming spectrum crisis,” and cited estimates from Cisco that wireless networks in the United States will be required to carry some 740 petabytes of data every month. “Although the potential of mobile broadband is limitless, its oxygen supply is not,” Genachowski noted. “Spectrum—our airwaves—really is the oxygen of mobile broadband service. Without sufficient spectrum, we will starve mobile broadband of the nourishment it needs to thrive as a platform for innovation, job creation and economic growth. And the fact is America is facing a looming spectrum crunch.”

To alleviate the pressure, Genachowski outlined a potential “volunteer” program aimed at freeing up as much as 500 MHz of spectrum space…with the bulk of it coming from existing television broadcasters. Television broadcasters have historically been very leery of any proposal or regulation that cuts into their high-power transmission pathways. Genachowski argued that even in large metropolitan areas, not all the spectrum space reserved for broadcast television is being used; the potential “Mobile Future Auction” would enable broadcasters to voluntarily surrender use of unused spectrum in constrained markets in exchange for a cut of future spectrum action revenue.

Television broadcasters have historically maintained that they are for more efficient in their use of spectrum—in terms of one-to-many communications—than any existing mobile technology. However, wireless companies would be thrilled to be able to get their hands on more spectrum space…and they would be happy to ink content deals with television producers to put their material into mobile television technologies.

The FCC is scheduled to unveil its complete National Broadband Plan March 16.

Deals

Amazon slashes price of 2018 iPad to under $250 in time for Christmas

Whether you love Apple or prefer Android, this 2018 iPad 32GB tablet deal is rather tempting. If you're still on the hunt for gifts, then this deep discount from Amazon makes now an excellent time to pick one up.
Mobile

5G’s arrival is transforming tech. Here’s everything you need to know to keep up

It has been years in the making, but 5G is finally becoming a reality. While 5G coverage is still extremely limited, expect to see it expand in 2019. Not sure what 5G even is? Here's everything you need to know.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘Twilight Zone’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Home Theater

Sling TV ramps up its base programming with Discovery Networks for free

Sling TV has grown a great deal since its launch. Now there are more channels and more packages to chose from, with prices to match, and more is being added all the time. Everything you need to know is right here.
Home Theater

The best movies on Netflix in December, from 'Buster Scruggs’ to endangered cats

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Mobile

The Galaxy S10 may be announced before MWC, sell for up to $1,750

While we still may be months away from an announcement, there's no doubt about it: Samsung is working hard on its successor to the Galaxy S9. Here's everything we know about the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S10.
Mobile

Midrange phones can’t do A.I., but MediaTek’s P90 chip aims to change that

MediaTek has announced the Helio P90 mobile processor, which it says will bring the best A.I. features we see on high-end smartphones, to the mid-range. We spoke to the company about the chip.
Wearables

How to use the ECG app, set up irregular rhythm notifications on the Apple Watch

The Apple Watch Series 4 is the best smartwatch iPhone owners can own, and it just got even better with the addition of the ECG app and ability to identify irregular heart rhythms. Here's how to set it all up.
Home Theater

Common AirPods problems, and how to fix them

Apple’s AirPods are among the best fully wireless earbuds we’ve seen, but they’re not perfect. If you’re having trouble, take a look at our guide to the most common problems and what you can do to fix them.
Mobile

The LG V40 ThinQ, G7 ThinQ, and Watch W7 are discounted for the holidays

LG announced a series of deals for the holiday season where you can buy the company's two flagship phones, the V40 ThinQ and G7 ThinQ, as well as its latest smartwatch, for between $150 and $200 off, depending on the device.
Mobile

Want to watch Netflix in bed or browse the web? We have a tablet for everyone

There’s so much choice when shopping for a new tablet that it can be hard to pick the right one. From iPads to Android, these are our picks for the best tablets you can buy right now whatever your budget.
Mobile

McLaren puts the pedal to the metal in special-edition OnePlus 6T

The OnePlus 6T is yet another flagship killer smartphone, bringing powerful specifications to a much lower price than the competition. Now, OnePlus has teamed up with McLaren for the OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition.
Mobile

G’day, Google: U.S. users can now give Assistant a British or Australian accent

U.S. Google Assistant users can give their Assistant a different voice. Google has updated Assistant with the ability for users to give it either a British or Australian accent, which could make it a little more personal for some.
Music

Tune in to the best internet radio stations for your listening pleasure

Even in the streaming era, radio stations get some of the best exclusives and curate some of the finest handpicked playlists around. Here are the best internet radio stations, for your listening pleasure.