NAB: Google, Microsoft Can Afford To Pay For Spectrum

The National Association of Broadcasters has some advice for Google and Microsoft, who have been pushing the FCC to free up more unlicensed spectrum in the broadcast incentive auction: If you need more spectrum for your business plans, you've got the money to bid for it in the auction.

"If Google and Microsoft believe they need more access to spectrum as part of their business models, NAB is aware of no financial or legal limitations that would prevent these companies from bidding in the incentive auction, raising revenues and increasing the likelihood of a successful auction," NAB said in a filing at the FCC.

NAB is concerned about the FCC's plan not to have any spectrum designated exclusively for wireless mics, which are used in remote newsgathering among other things and had seen their exclusive channels reduced in the 2009 DTV transition.

Microsoft and Google support the FCC's plan to permit unlicensed operations in the "duplex gap," the buffer between wireless uplink and downlink spectrum in the FCC's band plan for reclaimed broadcast spectrum. NAB wants the FCC to give wireless mics an exclusive home in that gap instead.

NAB says that Google and Microsoft's argument that the FCC has not set aside enough spectrum in the auction for unlicensed use "rings hollow" given that there is unlicensed use in ch. 37 and the guard bands that was not there before and given that the FCC has already or is planning to free up unlicensed spectrum in other, higher, spectrum bands (3.5 GHz, 5 GHz).

NAB also calls "patently false" the claim that reserving the duplex gap would deny consumer access to low-band unlicensed spectrum.

"Unlicensed operations already have access to significant low-band spectrum. In addition to continued use of TV white spaces in the remaining UHF spectrum after the incentive auction, unlicensed operation is permitted at 902-928 MHz, representing 26 megahertz of low-band spectrum – an amount that far exceeds any amount that will remain available for wireless microphones after the incentive auction."

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.