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Dingell Concerned About Spectrum Reallocation Proposals

The former Democratic chair of the House Energy & Commerce Committee says the FCC should come up with a national broadband rollout plan to Congress that promotes expansion of infrastructure while at the same time preserving, "to the greatest extent possible," free, over-the-air local broadcasting.

That advice came from Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) to FCC Chairman Julius Genachwoski in a letter, a copy of which was obtained by B&C.

The letter was prompted by calls by wireless companies, and feelers put out by the FCC's broadband team, for ways to reclaim broadcast spectrum to meet what is being billed by some as a wireless spectrum crisis.

The wireless industry says it will need 800 mHz more of spectrum at least to meet growing traffic and the demand for bandwidth-hungry applications.

That push has broadcasters pushing back hard, and they have an ally in Dingell if the letter to Genachowski is any indication.

"I write to express concern about proposals currently circulating at the commission to reallocate spectrum from over-the-air broadcasters to mobile communications providers," Dingell wrote in the letter, dated Monday.

Dingell points out that broadcasters already gave back close to a third of their spectrum in the switch to digital. "I believe that a further loss of spectrum by broadcasters may have an adverse effect on consumers by limiting their choice in available broadcast television," he wrote.

Broadcasters and noncommercials this week have been weighing in strongly at the FCC in opposition to the suggestion that they give up spectrum, particularly if it means losing some of those HD signals, multicast channels, and mobile DTV opportunities the digital switch has opened up for them.