Genachowski Lobbies for Unlicensed White Spaces

The topic of spectrum came up in several different venues at the Consumer Electronics Show, notes Fierce Wireless.

In a keynote address yesterday, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski sounded a warning for mobile broadband users:

“If you shut off the Internet, virtually nothing on the CES floor would work,” observed Genachowski.

The Chairman gave a speech on the need for expanded spectrum offerings and then sat down to chat with the host of the event, CEA CEO Gary Shapiro.

Genachowski said the FCC’s unlicensed spectrum use generates about $30 billion worth of economic value every year (Genachowski remarks).

“If we don’t create innovation zones based on massive broadband in the U.S., other countries surely will,” he added.

The FCC hopes to utilize auction off the now freed up television spectrum, which could be worth an estimated $25 billion.

Some legislators in Congress, such as Greg Walden (above) are trying to take power away from the FCC. They argue the FCC has too much control over the auction — and the money the auction will generate. Conservative legislators want to maximize “incentive auction” revenue by auctioning off ALL the spectrum to large telecom companies. That would raise more revenue for deficit reduction but would eliminate “free” unlicensed use of the broadcast frequencies.

Chairman Genachowski argues that attempts to eliminate unlicensed spectrum would hurt, not help the economy. He says unlicensed “white spaces” could close the gap of the nearly 100 million Americans who do not have broadband at home today, and will keep the United States an innovative leader in broadband wireless technology.

Among the products and systems that have resulted from the FCC’s allocation of spectrum to unlicensed holders are garage-door openers and baby monitors, cordless phones, Bluetooth and WiFi.

“We shouldn’t ignore history,” said Genachowski.

Genachowski said on Wednesday that he has received bi-partisan support from a group of U.S. senators for so-called “incentive” auctions of wireless spectrum without legislative restrictions.

The National Broadband Plan, announced in March, 2010, proposed a new system of “voluntary incentive auctions,” under which broadcasters and other private license holders could offer some or all of their current allocations to the FCC to package into new auctions. The proceeds from the incentive auctions would be split between the license holder and the government.

The FCC cannot conduct the auction without authorization from Congress. Maintaining FCC authority over incentive auctions on the un-used broadcast tv spectrum is a hot button issue in Congress.

The National Broadband Plan recommends the FCC make 300 megahertz available for mobile use within 5 years. Those frequencies would be between 225 MHz and 3.7 GHz. The FCC has given itself until October to find the remaining 200MHz, to meet the 500MHz target by 2020.

  • 300MHz of spectrum should become available within the next five years, with 500MHz available within 10 years for licensed and unlicensed use.
  • About 120MHz of spectrum from TV broadcasters. They hope TV broadcasters will voluntarily give up a good portion of the spectrum with financial incentives
  • Make 20 megahertz available in the 2.3 GHz (WCS) band, while protecting neighboring federal, Aeronautical (AMT) and satellite radio operations.
  • Auction 10 megahertz Upper 700 MHz D Block for commercial use that is technically compatible with public safety broadband services.
  • Make up to 60 megahertz available by auctioning Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) bands, including, if possible, 20 megahertz from federal allocations.
  • Accelerate terrestrial deployment in 90 megahertz of Mobile Satellite Spectrum (MSS).

Unlicensed white spaces could be disruptive. They enable new telecom entrants, but may threaten incumbent telcos.

Related Dailywireless articles include; Microsoft Announced Narrow Channel Whitespace, FCC Authorizes White Space Service in Wilmington, White Space Legislation Goes Dark, White Space War, Bills to Kill Unlicensed White Space?, White Space Trial Completed, White Space Trialed, Huawei to Trial White Space TD-LTE, NTIA “Finds” 1.5 GHz of Federal Spectrum, UK Delays 4G Auction Ofcom: White Spaces by 2013, UK Gets Free Public WiFi, Europe’s Digital Divide Auction,

Posted by Sam Churchill on .

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