Media / Technology

Now that most television has gone digital, there’s a large amount of available broadcast spectrum, or potential broadcast capacity, generally regulated by the FCC. According to this article, only, roughly, 10% of that capacity is still being used for broadcast television. The FCC wants that capacity to be made available for cellphone usage. And the FCC is opening a very large, very contentious can of worms.

“Does this mean that the iPhone should be “entitled” to more spectrum? Life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and wireless broadband! I don’t know if I’d go that far, but it’s hard to deny the implications of the numbers. The FCC reports that on AT&T’s network, wireless data consumption has risen 5000 percent in the last three years, largely because of the iPhone…
“Growth numbers like that imply that spectrum can be more profitably employed by the telcos than by TV broadcasters. According to the FCC, the market value of spectrum auctioned for mobile broadband use in 2008 was about ten times greater than the value of spectrum bands used for TV broadcasting.
“The FCC’s recommendations on wireless spectrum are part of its larger agenda on a national broadband strategy. Since the U.S. has fallen sadly behind other industrialized countries in providing broadband Internet access via land-lines, the FCC believes that Congress should move aggressively to authorize the FCC to ensure that the nation spares no attempt to make sure its wireless broadband networks are second to none.”

Luckily for the telecom companies, most American consumers have no basis of comparison to discover that our cell service, too, has already “fallen sadly behind other industrialized countries,” international iPhone availability notwithstanding. Nonetheless, whether U.S. broadcasters like it or not, they are being relegated to ‘buggy-whip manufacturer’ status. Yes, it happens that fast these days.

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