Google: FCC's Vacant Channel Proposal Has Minimal Effect

The FCC's vacant-channel proceeding will have minimal impact on LPTVs and translators in the post incentive auction repack while it advances the FCC's goal of expanding wireless broadband.

That is according to Austin Schlick, director, communications law, for Google and former FCC general counsel in a filing at the FCC March 25.

The FCC has yet to finalize a proposal to reserve for unlicensed use at least one channel in every market where there is a channel vacant.

Schlick says the proposal, which Google strongly backs, would "advance broadband deployment, support innovation, and spur economic growth."

Google says it ran 75,000 simulations in five test markets and that, for the typical viewer, in the "vast majority of scenarios," no station will be affected, period, and only a small effect where it has any. Google says four of the five markets were chosen for their "worst case" impacts of large numbers of LPTVs and translators.

The National Association of Broadcasters has argued that reserving spectrum for unlicensed prioritizes that use over the licensed LPTVs and translators not protected in the auction repack will have adverse impacts on stations and viewers and will not allow that spectrum to be used for innovative new broadcast services or stations. It argues that the harms are "real and concrete" and the benefits "speculative."

Google says NAB's predictions of adverse effects are incorrect.

The two have been going back and forth in the spectrum auction docket over the issue of unlicensed spectrum post-auction and before that similarly over the so-called "white spaces" between TV channels that the FCC opened up for unlicensed use.

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.