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Cable Technology Feature Article

January 05, 2010

Federal Government Continues Discussions about Spectrum Reallocation

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, IP Communications Magazines

The move to open additional radio spectrum for wireless broadband continues to build momentum.
According to reports, the Obama administration is pushing federal regulators to work on potential spectrum reallocation with an eye toward making wireless Internet a more viable competitor to the wireline broadband offerings of the big cable TV and telephone companies.
Lawrence Strickling, head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, said just that in a letter presented to the Federal Communications Commission earlier this week. NTIA is one of two federal regulatory bodies awarding the broadband stimulus funds and is contributing to the FCC (News - Alert) effort around the National Broadband Plan, which is due out next month.
According to an Associated Press (News - Alert) story, the letter “draws heavily on a Justice Department analysis of the state of competition in the broadband market, which was filed with the FCC on Monday.” The DoJ analysis notes the high cost of building additional broadband wireline networks, but says as wireless now stands it’s unclear whether it is fast and reliable enough to be a real competitor with existing wireline cableco and telco broadband.
Strickling in his letter indicated that providing the wireless industry with more spectrum could help level the playing field on that front.
Indeed, this is a popular refrain of what we’ve been hearing for months from the federal government, which is looking at reallocating spectrum now used by various commercial and government users, including some now in the hands of TV broadcasters and satellite outfits. This is at the request of the wireless industry, which has requested it receive 800mHz over the next six years, according to the AP report.
Just what wireless companies might receive such spectrum should the reallocation(s) occur remains to be seen. However, the FCC has said it wants to steer clear of giving the big wireless phone companies any advantage in potential spectrum auctions.

Edited by Michael Dinan