House Communications Subcommittee Postpones Spectrum Hearing

The House Communications Subcommittee has postponed a hearing on spectrum as the House and Senate continue to battle over funding the federal government, which shut down at midnight Monday.

At a Tuesday morning hearing, the subcommittee was planning to examine the "challenges and opportunities" in the 5 GHZ band, where cable operators have been pushing for more unlicensed Wi-Fi spectrum, and the FCC has taken steps to free up that additional spectrum.

The FCC voted back in February to free up the spectrum, which it must do without interfering with military, FAA and automotive collision-avoidance systems operating in the band (that is the "challenge" part).

FCC Office of Engineering and Technology head Julie Knapp has estimated that freeing up the additional spectrum will increase the current Wi-Fi allocation in the band by 35 percent and streamline certification of Wi-Fi devices.

Cable operators, who would like to extend their reach to their more mobile sub base, are all for the move as well. "More extensive use of the 5 GHz band, along with additional unlicensed spectrum in other bands, will permit cable companies and other innovators to continue to provide Americans with new benefits, businesses with new opportunities, and those in need with life-saving connections," the National Cable and Telecommunications Association said when the FCC first voted the item.

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.