FCC Proposes Changes In Experimental Radio Licensing, TV Spectrum Use For Broadband
December 1, 2010 at 4:23 AM (PT)
The FCC announced TUESDAY that it has issued two proposals and a Notice of Inquiry changing how it approaches experimentation with the use of frequencies and proposing the long-discussed possibility of allowing TV stations to combine on single channels to open frequencies for wireless broadband services. The moves signal the Commission's continuing interest in shifting frequency use from broadcasting to broadband.
In one action, the Commission issued a Notice of Proposed Rule Making expanding the existing Experimental Radio Service rules to grant new "program licenses" to qualified entities. The new licenses would allow holders to conduct research without needing to get new approval for each experiment. One of the new licenses would "allow universities, laboratories and other qualified research institutions to conduct experiments over a wide variety of frequencies and other operating parameters"; another, the "Innovation Zone" license, would mark off geographic areas where researchers could experiment; and a "medical license" would be geared towards medical research.
A related Notice of Inquiry asks for comment on how to advance technologies that use "dynamic access" radios and techniques to "squeeze the most use out of available spectrum ... (and) provide more intensive and efficient use of spectrum." The Commission is seeking feedback on expanding the use of its present policy on television "white spaces" to other frequency bands.
The Commission also voted TUESDAY to propose opening television spectrum for wireless broadband use by allowing wireless providers to have equal access to bid for TV frequencies in spectrum auctions, and by potentially allowing broadcast TV stations to "voluntarily combine their operations and distinct programming lineups on a single TV channel."
On the experimental rule changes, Chairman JULIUS GENACHOWSKI said, "My goal is for these proceedings to be a vehicle for identifying steps we can take to unleash and accelerate new spectrally-efficiency policies and technologies. I’m interested in ideas, for example, to jump-start secondary markets for dynamic spectrum access. I’m interested in how we can encourage better information on spectrum use, building on our innovative spectrum dashboard, and concretely facilitating opportunistic or auxiliary spectrum uses."
GENACHOWSKI, discussing the TV spectrum issue, added, "We are at an inflection point with our invisible infrastructure. The explosive growth in mobile communications threatens to outpace the infrastructure on which it relies. I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating and emphasis: If we don’t act to update our spectrum policies for the 21st century, we’re going to run into a wall – a spectrum crunch – that will stifle American innovation and economic growth and cost us the opportunity to lead the world in mobile communications."