Skip to main content

NAB-Commissioned StudyOffers Alternatives For Spectrum/Capacity Crunch

The National Association of Broadcasters has filed a study
with the FCC concluding that the FCC's National Broadband Plan overstated the
pressing need for wireless spectrum relied on faulty info and insufficient
analysis to justify a spectrum reclamation push that will "lead to
inadequate solutions."

That came in NAB comments
to the FCC on its proposals for repacking, channel sharing and other ways of
getting spectrum out of the broadcast allocation to auction for wireless

NAB commissioned a study
from Uzoma Onyeije, former FCC broadband legal advisor to the Wireless Telecommunications
Bureau under Chairman Michael Powell in 2003-2006.

"The factual basis for the 'spectrum crisis' claim is
underwhelming," Onyeije said. "It appears that the notion of a need
for large-scale spectrum reallocation to address a shortage of mobile spectrum
is based on questionable assumptions designed to achieve a particular
result," he said, calling the conclusion of a spectrum shortage based on
"little more than a wish list by wireless carriers."

"There's no denying that the looming spectrum crunch is real and that we need to take action now," said FCC Spokesman Rob Kenny. "The facts are clear: Last year, wireless consumers downloaded 5 billion apps and analysts project tablet sales of 55 million worldwide in 2011. In short, the mobile revolution places an enormous demand on our airwaves or spectrum - America's invisible infrastructure. We simply can't afford to study this to death while the rest of the world passes us by. We need to take every step possible, including voluntary incentive auctions, to free up spectrum and ensure our global competitiveness."

He suggested that there are many other ways to get spectrum,
primarily by using technology to boost spectrum efficiency--smart antennas,

Blair Levin, now with the Aspen Institute, who oversaw the
National Broadband Plan, agrees with Onyeije that there are a variety of ways
to address the problem. "Every engineer knows, as they used to say in
NASA, with enough thrust anything will fly. The question is what is the cost of the thrust. And,
yes, there are multiple ways of solving any problem, but anyone who studies history
and technology recognizes that solving these problems with more spectrum is
often a more efficient way than some of the things Onyeije mentions."