Today the FCC unanimously agreed to a preliminary plan to move spectrum from television companies to wireless providers. The reason for the shift is a bid to boost total bandwidth open to mobile Internet providers.
The plan involves the use of an ‘incentive auction,’ by which wireless companies will pay for spectrum. A portion of generated revenues will be remitted to the original spectrum holders. The FCC will take a cut.
According to the New York Times, the FCC has indicated that as much as $15 billion will be raised through the process. Of that sum, $7 billion may be spent building a national emergency communications network.
The FCC’s decision was 5-0. However, don’t expect the auctions to take place until 2014.
The process is not simple. FCC commissioner Robert McDowell compared the process to playing chess in three dimensions while having one’s vision restricted. Thus, that 2014 timeframe could be optimistic.
However, the end goal is a worthy one. By opening more spectrum to those who need it most – companies delivering data to increasingly hungry and popular mobile devices – the entire smartphone and tablet market will be well served. Given the nature of the auction, television companies need only get rid of what they don’t need, making the process a net positive for all parties involved, provided that wireless carriers can afford the spectrum that does go up for bidding.
The cost however, will likely be bearable, and borne with a smile. This is akin to opening up more lanes on a crowded freeway. From The Hill, here’s what spectrum will be up for nabbing in the auction:
The proposal would reserve 6 megahertz guard bands for unlicensed use between broadcast and mobile broadband frequencies. The commission sought comment on proposals that would make a “substantial amount” of additional spectrum available for unlicensed use.
Spectrum sale has become a political issue of late, with the Republican party using what is perceives to be a lack of it as a cudgel to criticize the sitting President. Today’s news won’t undermine that narrative per se, but what we have seen today is that progress is being made, politics be damned.
Top Image Credit: Acid Pix