Feeds

US TV spectrum sale ploy gets OK from FCC

Pipes to be squeezed into tighter slots

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

The FCC has approved its own cunning plan of letting TV broadcasters sell off their unused spectrum for a slice of the future pie.

The hope is that TV companies can release 120MHz of radio space by rearranging their channels and squeezing some digital pipes into smaller slots. In turn they'll be rewarded with a cut of revenue generated on spectrum they never paid for.

US TV broadcasters were allocated the spectrum for terrestrial broadcasting, but with Americans increasingly using cable and satellite TV the FCC reckons this huge quantity of bandwidth could be put to better use.

The best way to efficiently use spectrum, as espoused by the UK regulator Ofcom, is to put a financial value on it and let the free market decide what it should end up being used for.

This is what will happen in the US, subject to a public consultation: broadcasters will not be force to sell off frequencies, but if they decide to do so then they'll get a cut when the FCC auctions them off.

This cut is supposed to cover the cost of retuning all the set-top boxes as the channels move around, and might also recompense broadcasters who decide to drop a channel or two. The National Association of Broadcasters is cautiously supportive of the plan, so long as all sell-offs remain voluntary, but if the auction value goes high enough then broadcasters will find it impossible not to sell up.

The auction value is based on the much-hyped "spectrum crisis" facing America, which assumes that the consumption of mobile data will continue rising at the rate it has over the last decade or so, and predicts dire consequences if 500MHz of spectrum isn't freed up before 2020.

It's true that we've squeezed about as much data as we can into the existing spectrum: 4G (LTE or WiMAX) is more about flexibility than increased capacity in the same bandwidth. But it is decidedly unclear if the appetite of mobile data, and the ability to pay for it, will continue to increase unabated. ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
Crouching tiger, FAST ASLEEP dragon: Smugglers can't shift iPhone 6s
China's grey market reports 'sluggish' sales of Apple mobe
TEEN RAMPAGE: Kids in iPhone 6 'Will it bend' YouTube 'prank'
iPhones bent in Norwich? As if the place wasn't weird enough
Sea-Me-We 5 construction starts
New sub cable to go live 2016
EE coughs to BROKEN data usage metrics BLUNDER that short-changes customers
Carrier apologises for 'inflated' measurements cockup
Comcast: Help, help, FCC. Netflix and pals are EXTORTIONISTS
The others guys are being mean so therefore ... monopoly all good, yeah?
Surprise: if you work from home you need the Internet
Buffer-rage sends Aussies out to experience road rage
EE buys 58 Phones 4u stores for £2.5m after picking over carcass
Operator says it will safeguard 359 jobs, plans lick of paint
prev story

Whitepapers

A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.