A fight is brewing in Washington, D.C., and this one’s not the much-publicized battle over health care reform.
No, the brawl that is just getting started is much quieter and could drag on for years. In one corner of the ring is the Federal Communications Commission, which wants to reclaim wireless spectrum for new broadband services. In the other corner are TV broadcasters, which sit on the spectrum the FCC wants to take back.
The FCC’s new National Broadband Plan, officially introduced this week, proposes that government shrink the overall spectrum that is allocated to TV broadcasters in the U.S. by about 40 percent. The plan (PDF) calls for the FCC to reclaim about 120 MHz of spectrum from broadcasters in the next five years that would be used by cell phone operators and other wireless entrepreneurs to deliver new broadband services. Today, about 300MHz of spectrum has been set aside for free over-the-air TV broadcast.