Bill proposes paying broadcasters for spectrum

Sen. Jay Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat, is preparing a bill authorizing the FCC to pay broadcasters to give up their spectrum for wireless broadband use. Sens. John Kerry and Olympia Snowe have a similar bill floating around the legislature as well as the FCC tries to grab broadcast spectrum for a national broadband network.

Rockefeller said the goal of his bill is not to wrest spectrum from broadcasters but "instead provide them with a voluntary opportunity to realize a portion of auction revenues if they wish to facilitate putting spectrum to new and productive uses."

The broadcasters have maintained that they're already putting spectrum to productive use via over-the-air television and newly developing mobile digital TV. Left unsaid, so far by most, is that if the spectrum is removed from the broadcasters, they likely would become more reliant on cable, satellite and telco providers for signal carriage. In addition to straining the bandwidth of those networks, this could create yet another mountain out of what should be a molehill of retransmission consent agreements.

On the other side of the coin, Rockefeller's suggestion was met with approval by Verizon Wireless which said that open spectrum auctions would create "new opportunities for technological innovation."

For more:
- see this story
- and this news release

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