Charter Pushes for More Reserve Spectrum

Charter had more than the proposed Time Warner Cable deal on its mind Tuesday, urging the FCC to make plenty of low-band spectrum available in the broadcast incentive forward auction to competitors to AT&T and Verizon.

The FCC has proposed reserving 30 MHz of spectrum in the auction for competitive carriers, but Charter says it should be 40 MHz, which would allow for two potential competitors--20 MHz is needed for each of those.

Charter agrees that the FCC should put some of the best "category 1" spectrum--the least impaired by potential interference from TV stations repacked in nearby spectrum--in the reserve, but also argue the FCC should include some of the second-best, rather than have no reserve where there are no essentially unencumbered (category 1) licenses.

"The Commission proposes to place Category 1 licenses (i.e., licenses with impairments that affect zero to 15 percent of the population) in the reserve, but not to place any Category 2 licenses (i.e., licenses with impairments that affect greater than 15 percent but less than or equal to 50 percent of the population) in the reserve," Charter said in a letter to the FCC about the upcoming incentive auction. "This proposal would effectively eliminate the reserve and foreclose bidding by competitive carriers in areas where there are no Category 1 licenses—undermining the commission’s goal of using the reserve to advance competition and investment. Therefore, Charter urges the Commission to instead place the least impaired Category 2 licenses in the reserve in areas where there are no Category 1 licenses rather than eliminating the reserve."

Charter also wants the FCC to heavy up on unlicensed spectrum in the auction, including freeing it up in the guard bands separating TV and wireless spectrum,  duplex gap (between wireless upload and download spectrum) and channel in 37, as well as in the so-called "white spaces" between TV channels.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.