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CTIA: FCC Broadband Use Estimate Was Spot On

CTIA: The Wireless Association says the FCC got it exactly right in 2010 when it predicted the exploding need for wireless spectrum, but fell short in its goal of finding enough to meet that demand.

That is according to a new white paper, Mobile Data Demand: Growth Forecasts Met, released Monday. According to the paper, the FCC's broadband demand projections in the 2010 National Broadband Plan of 562 petabytes of data per month (1 petabyte equals one quadrillion bytes) was within a petabyte of the actual total (563 per month).

By contrast, that same report called for reallocating 300 MHz for mobile broadband by 2015. "Despite the FCC’s nearly perfect projections, the government has made 135 MHz spectrum available for mobile broadband since 2010, which is less than half of what the FCC suggested would be required by 2015," said CTIA.

And even with the AWS-3 auction—which freed up 65 MHz—and the broadcast incentive auction, which could free up over 100 MHz more, projections for 2019 put traffic at six times the current level, with no plans to make enough spectrum available. The target for spectrum clearing by 2020, per the Obama administration's mobile broadband plan, is 500 MHz

"America lacks a long-term and comprehensive licensed spectrum plan for 2020 and beyond to meet the predicted mobile traffic demands," said CTIA president Meredith Attwell Baker in announcing the paper's release, which comes as the FCC gets down to the short strokes on structuring the broadcast incentive auction, planned for early next year.

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.