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FCC Lays GroundWork for Incentive Spectrum Auctions
Rules by 2013, Actual Auction by 2014
by Karl Bode 09:25AM Friday Sep 07 2012
FCC boss Julius Genachowski has made getting more spectrum to market his top priority. His proposal to accomplish this has primarily been something called incentive auctions, which allow broadcasters to voluntarily give up spectrum in exchange for some of the auction proceeds. The National Broadband Plan recommended the reallocation of 500 MHz of spectrum for wireless broadband, with 120 MHz of it coming from the spectrum used for local TV broadcasts.

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According to Genachowski, such auctions would be a "mechanism to enable market forces to unleash the value of that spectrum for broadband use." Cable operators and the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) have somewhat balked at the idea, primarily because they're worried that the voluntary auctions may not be so voluntary.

The FCC has announced that during an upcoming meeting they'll lay the groundwork to get these auctions up and running, with the goal of getting rules formalized in 2013 with an auction in 2014. In a statement e-mailed to the press, Genachowski stated that the auctions will be a boon to the entire wireless ecosystem:
quote:
"In freeing up spectrum for wireless broadband, incentive auctions will drive faster speeds, greater capacity, and ubiquitous mobile coverage. These are essential ingredients for innovation and leadership in the 21st century economy where smartphones and tablets powered by 4G LTE and Wi-Fi networks are proliferating, and the mobile Internet becomes more important every day. Over the last few years, the U.S. has regained global leadership in mobile innovation -- and we must not let up now."
The FCC will be seeking public comment on how specifically to design incentive auctions, which not only aim to convince broadcasters to give up spectrum, but to share spectrum with other stations, or volunteer to give up UHF spectrum for a VHF channel.

Despite ceaseless "spectrum apocalypse" claims from incumbent lobbyists, the problem hasn't necessarily been the lack of spectrum -- it has been the inefficient use of existing spectrum (government, AT&T's sluggish refarming of 2G spectrum), and the fact that AT&T and Verizon are sitting on the majority of it. The FCC also recently announced they'll take a closer look at the rules determining how much spectrum is too much spectrum for one company to possess.

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rdmiller

join:2005-09-23
Richmond, VA

Only 120 Mhz

TV broadcasters can only give back a max of 120 Mhz. The rest has to come from somewhere else. A small step for mankind!
Telco

join:2008-12-19
Reviews:
·Callcentric

Re: Only 120 Mhz

I think all of the spectrum needs to be reevaluated and reused sensibly. Wireless data is going to be huge from now on, basically, until the end of time. Anything or anyone using frequencies inefficiently should be forced to change, update, and move.

Congress needs to wake up and realize that you cannot give companies like Sprint and Tmobile high frequencies and expect them to compete with 700MHZ that the two monopolies have hoarded. For example, a provider with 2.5Ghz needs about 4 to 6 times the infrastructure (base stations) to match the coverage of a single 700Mhz base station.
sonicmerlin

join:2009-05-24
Cleveland, OH
kudos:1

Re: Only 120 Mhz

said by Telco:

I think all of the spectrum needs to be reevaluated and reused sensibly. Wireless data is going to be huge from now on, basically, until the end of time. Anything or anyone using frequencies inefficiently should be forced to change, update, and move.

Congress needs to wake up and realize that you cannot give companies like Sprint and Tmobile high frequencies and expect them to compete with 700MHZ that the two monopolies have hoarded. For example, a provider with 2.5Ghz needs about 4 to 6 times the infrastructure (base stations) to match the coverage of a single 700Mhz base station.

The government builds roads, telephone lines, sewers, electric lines, and essentially all major infrastructure- so why doesn't it build the broadband lines and wireless towers? Then rent those out to private companies.

88615298
Premium
join:2004-07-28
West Tenness

Not getting 120 MHz from TV

Since channel 37 can't be used for anything just make that the cut off. That's 84 MHz from channels 38-51. 42 MHz split between at&t and Verizon. Which we know will be the only 2 buyers out there.

skeechan
Ai Otsukaholic
Premium
join:2012-01-26
AA169|170
kudos:2

Use it or lose it

Simple. No sitting on spectrum or it is forfeited. And there should be limits as to how much a single company can own to ensure there is competition. The bidding should be the first and last place where we see competition.

88615298
Premium
join:2004-07-28
West Tenness

Re: Use it or lose it

said by skeechan:

Simple. No sitting on spectrum or it is forfeited. And there should be limits as to how much a single company can own to ensure there is competition. The bidding should be the first and last place where we see competition.

What would competition do? If you have 6 companies but because of that none has adequate bandwidth you are going to have the choice of choosing six shitty services. That's better? People seem to think that bandwidth is this magical unlimited thing.

skeechan
Ai Otsukaholic
Premium
join:2012-01-26
AA169|170
kudos:2
Reviews:
·Clear Wireless
·Cox HSI
·Verizon FiOS

Re: Use it or lose it

No, what would happen is instead of 2 companies hoarding the spectrum and while having ample bandwidth STILL cap the snot out of service and gouge with massive overage fees, you take that same number of users and spread them across multiple companies for better distribution of users across the spectrum. And because you have more companies competing, they can't treat their customers like ass quite as easily.

Having 1 or 2 companies with the vast majority of spectrum doesn't result in higher speeds or better service, it results in the current oligopoly of higher prices, degraded service and the worse customer service in the history of customer service.

88615298
Premium
join:2004-07-28
West Tenness

Re: Use it or lose it

Who is saying they are hording spectrum? Holding on to something until you are ready to use it is not hoarding.
sonicmerlin

join:2009-05-24
Cleveland, OH
kudos:1

Re: Use it or lose it

said by 88615298:

Who is saying they are hording spectrum? Holding on to something until you are ready to use it is not hoarding.

Are you playing stupid or do you honestly think Verizon and AT&T are buying up massive swaths up spectrum to "hold onto it until they are ready"? You don't think this has anything to do with warehousing to keep competition out of the industry?

skeechan
Ai Otsukaholic
Premium
join:2012-01-26
AA169|170
kudos:2
Reviews:
·Clear Wireless
·Cox HSI
·Verizon FiOS

1 edit

Re: Use it or lose it

They should deploy or forfeit the spectrum and pay a "spectrum squatting" penalty 2X the value of the spectrum. Those penalties go into a pool for loan guarantees for startups. Simple. No buying up spectrum and sitting on it for years. If you do, taxpayers through regulation make sure it isn't profitable.

Don't buy it unless you have plans to use it PROMPTLY. 2-3 years is enough to show deployment progress. "Intent" isn't going to cut it because the telcos like VZ and AT&T are a bunch of frakkin' liars and cheats who have made a business stealing from taxpayers.
nasadude

join:2001-10-05
Rockville, MD

don't get your hopes up

I wouldn't get my hopes up that this will actually turn out good for the consumer. There won't be any small, innovative companies enabled to compete because they will get outbid by the large incumbents, who will then just sit on the spectrum (or use it to extend their monopoly footprint). The FCC won't do shit if this is what happens and nothing will change.

marcoboto

@rr.com

just take the spectrum from the tv stations.

i'd like to remind people that the TV stations don't own that spectrum and never paid a dime for it. the fcc should just reband all the tv spectrum to free up as much as possible and then auction the licenses to the highest bidder.

88615298
Premium
join:2004-07-28
West Tenness

Re: just take the spectrum from the tv stations.

said by marcoboto :

i'd like to remind people that the TV stations don't own that spectrum and never paid a dime for it.

They were in fact FORCED by the US government to spend MILLIONS each on converting their stations from analog to digital just 3 years ago. Are you going to compensate over 1700 stations for that cost? Also no more OTA TV? Do you work for the pay TV industry? Because that would be their wet dream.

88615298
Premium
join:2004-07-28
West Tenness
Also I may add mobile has no use for frequencies in low UHF. You want to go back to phones with the antennas that stuck out for the phone? The lower the frequency the larger the radio wave which means the larger antenna you need.

kickass69

join:2002-06-03
Lake Hopatcong, NJ
It's bad enough that channels 51 to 69 are gone with how squeezed TV stations are...atleast in major markets and close to other major cities....some even on the same channel number not even 100 miles away. Should've never got rid of 51 to 69 ultimately.

OTA TV has become that much more valuable and being used more for those who are cord cutting due to excessive cable/satellite rate hikes combined with Netflix, Hulu or Amazon much less those who torrent.

Giving the Death Star and Big Red more spectrum that we have to get ripped off with via those shared data plans and ridiclous caps and overages is something we DON'T need. People need to detach themselves from their smartphones and not use them endlessly.
clone

join:2000-12-11
Portage, IN
Reviews:
·T-Mobile US

Re: just take the spectrum from the tv stations.

said by kickass69:

It's bad enough that channels 51 to 69 are gone with how squeezed TV stations are...atleast in major markets and close to other major cities....some even on the same channel number not even 100 miles away. Should've never got rid of 51 to 69 ultimately.

OTA TV has become that much more valuable and being used more for those who are cord cutting due to excessive cable/satellite rate hikes combined with Netflix, Hulu or Amazon much less those who torrent.

Giving the Death Star and Big Red more spectrum that we have to get ripped off with via those shared data plans and ridiclous caps and overages is something we DON'T need.



Exactly. The 700MHz debacle squeezed broadcasters tight enough. The government would *really* like to shut down all terrestrial broadcasts so there are choke points to cut off information to the masses (cable, satellite systems are very easily compromised), but that's another issue altogether.

Back on topic, not 1 additional kHz of spectrum should go to these duopolists (ATT & VZW), ever. Make THEM innovate for a change. The Big 2 are already squatting on enough spectrum to last them another 15 years, at least, not to mention, you know, actually building their networks out?

I've said it before and I'll say it again: THERE IS NO SPECTRUM CRISIS! These are two telcos acting exactly as such. This is what telcos do. How can people be so blind?

said by kickass69:

People need to detach themselves from their smartphones and not use them endlessly.

I disagree. If people are demanding a service, someone should provide it. If that means actually building more robust networks, then that's exactly what should happen. Meaning if you are in an area where there is an overcrowded cell, turn the power down and add a second one. Just like splitting the node in cable, but since it's shiny magical wireless, the telcos have snowed everyone into believing there is some mysterious reason they can't compete and just HAVE to take more spectrum, when all they really want to do is sit on their laurels and collect the revenue without spending a dime.

I have no sympathy for these giants. I have no problem with Capitalism, making as much money as you can. But constantly begging for corporate welfare in the form of monetary and spectrum handouts is where I draw the line. Compete with what you have or let someone else do it for you.

88615298
Premium
join:2004-07-28
West Tenness

Re: just take the spectrum from the tv stations.

said by clone:

Meaning if you are in an area where there is an overcrowded cell, turn the power down and add a second one. Just like splitting the node in cable, but since it's shiny magical wireless, the telcos have snowed everyone into believing there is some mysterious reason they can't compete and just HAVE to take more spectrum, when all they really want to do is sit on their laurels and collect the revenue without spending a dime.

A) That cost money who is paying for that? Also you always get a bunch of local idiots protesting about a new tower going up. So then there is lawsuits and how does that take to settle?

B) Won't necessarily solve the problem. Even with a 2nd tower you can only use a frequency so much.

C) Anyway they will get at most channels 38-51. Probably not even that. Auction won't take place before 2014. And relocating won't take place until 2015. Makes sense to wait until after Sept 1st 2015 when LP analog is shut down. Many LPs will decide not to upgrade to digital so their channel allotments will open up.
sonicmerlin

join:2009-05-24
Cleveland, OH
kudos:1

Re: just take the spectrum from the tv stations.

said by 88615298:

A) That cost money who is paying for that? Also you always get a bunch of local idiots protesting about a new tower going up. So then there is lawsuits and how does that take to settle?

B) Won't necessarily solve the problem. Even with a 2nd tower you can only use a frequency so much.

C) Anyway they will get at most channels 38-51. Probably not even that. Auction won't take place before 2014. And relocating won't take place until 2015. Makes sense to wait until after Sept 1st 2015 when LP analog is shut down. Many LPs will decide not to upgrade to digital so their channel allotments will open up.

A) Uh... maybe the users that pay them for their services?

B) What? What the devil does that even mean? Are you implying frequency will "get tired", start to complain about being overworked?
clone

join:2000-12-11
Portage, IN
Reviews:
·T-Mobile US
A) The telco is going to pay for it. Trust me, short of Sprint, the Big 4 aren't hurting. And to address your second point, the only place more spectrum is *really* needed is in the major metro areas. You get NIMBYs in the suburban/rural areas. They can always find someone willing to let them stick an antenna on their building/property in the metropolises.

B) Huh? That's why the power gets turned down. In fact in CDMA and UMTS systems, every cell site in a system is already using the exact same frequency. It requires some finess in the fine tuning, but I'm sure the engineers for VZW and ATT are top-notch and can handle the challenge.

C) Just channels 38-51? Oh is that all? Well nevermind then. It's just 84 more megahertz of "Boardwalk/Park Place" spectrum that is currently used for free OTA broadcasts that serve the public interest handed over to the incumbents. I would say "corporate welfare", but it's worse than that. The government gets the money and the people get nothing but higher prices and more duopolistic behaviors.

Let them finish building out 700 first. By the time "5G" or whatever comes along, they can re-farm cellular spectrum, PCS spectrum, or AWS spectrum. They really don't need enough spectrum to be running 4 redundant networks. Verizon plans to turn off EVDO once LTE is ubiquitous. What about all that PCS spectrum? What about the AWS spectrum that ATT and Verizon have been squatting on for years (and buying more of) without actually lighting up a single cell site on it. What is going to happen to Verizon's 800MHz once CDMA is deprecated (about 8 years out according to internal sources)? There is plenty to go around.

If broadcasters want to voluntarily give up spectrum for something, fine. But please, let it be something new and/or innovative, not just handed over to the telco oligarchy to entrench their positions.

88615298
Premium
join:2004-07-28
West Tenness
said by clone:

Exactly. The 700MHz debacle squeezed broadcasters tight enough.

Please. A bit less hyperbole. Also you do realize that all this brand new LTE getting lit up uses the 700 MHz "debacle" spectrum. what exactly would they be using if they didn't have it?

Back on topic, not 1 additional kHz of spectrum should go to these duopolists (ATT & VZW), ever. Make THEM innovate for a change. The Big 2 are already squatting on enough spectrum to last them another 15 years, at least?

based on what? I'd like a link to your data.
clone

join:2000-12-11
Portage, IN
Reviews:
·T-Mobile US

Re: just take the spectrum from the tv stations.

said by 88615298:

said by clone:

Exactly. The 700MHz debacle squeezed broadcasters tight enough.

Please. A bit less hyperbole. Also you do realize that all this brand new LTE getting lit up uses the 700 MHz "debacle" spectrum. what exactly would they be using if they didn't have it?

I don't know, but the point is moot since they DO have it. But I do know that there are a myriad of interference issues in the DTV arena now, and large swaths of suburban and exurban areas are now without usable OTA TV. I know, screw'em right? It's not hyperbole, obviously you aren't exposed to either of these industries (wireless or broadcast), or you would know this.

said by 88615298:

Back on topic, not 1 additional kHz of spectrum should go to these duopolists (ATT & VZW), ever. Make THEM innovate for a change. The Big 2 are already squatting on enough spectrum to last them another 15 years, at least?

based on what? I'd like a link to your data.

Link? Sorry, no can do. You can research, however, things like cellular market saturation, spectral efficiency of given wireless protocols (such as GSM/GPRS vs. CDMA/EVDO vs. UMTS/HSPA+ vs. LTE) then compare all that to the MHz of spectrum available since cellular's inception vs. number of subscribers vs. usage and now introduce usage caps into the mix. If you really get down to details, you can see for yourself exactly what's going on in the industry. I shouldn't have to hold everyone's hand just because they are a telco apologist.

88615298
Premium
join:2004-07-28
West Tenness
said by kickass69:

It's bad enough that channels 51 to 69 are gone with how squeezed TV stations are...atleast in major markets and close to other major cities....some even on the same channel number not even 100 miles away. Should've never got rid of 51 to 69 ultimately.

Maybe in LA or NY. In Nashville there are 2 stations above channel 36 in Memphis there's 1 channel above 31.

Also with digital if all the stations would broadcast from the same tower area and same power you can have adjacent channels without interference

scott2020

join:2008-07-20
MO

Re: just take the spectrum from the tv stations.

Many areas, especially rural areas, will all combine onto a single transmitter and sell off the rest, split the profits, and call it good. Why put 1 station in 6Mhz when you can put 5 or 6? Compress the hell out of it and have absolutely horrible picture quality.

No one watches OTA anyway, right? Screw 'em /sarcasm/

We have 1 independent station on UHF 27 struggling to stay alive. I'm sure they would love to shut down their transmitter and hook up with someone else.

The future of true HD quality OTA is at risk. It will not be a necessity as a way to keep the general public informed about emergencies or whatever. HD will become a luxury for those who choose to pay for it.

88615298
Premium
join:2004-07-28
West Tenness

Re: just take the spectrum from the tv stations.

said by scott2020:

Many areas, especially rural areas, will all combine onto a single transmitter and sell off the rest, split the profits, and call it good. Why put 1 station in 6Mhz when you can put 5 or 6? Compress the hell out of it and have absolutely horrible picture quality.

No one watches OTA anyway, right? Screw 'em /sarcasm/

We have 1 independent station on UHF 27 struggling to stay alive. I'm sure they would love to shut down their transmitter and hook up with someone else.

The future of true HD quality OTA is at risk. It will not be a necessity as a way to keep the general public informed about emergencies or whatever. HD will become a luxury for those who choose to pay for it.

None of what you wrote has to do with the topic. Mobile doesn't need spectrum in rural areas. It needs it for the big cities. So no one is going to be interested in the spectrum from some station in Bumfuck Egypt.

scott2020

join:2008-07-20
MO

Re: just take the spectrum from the tv stations.

This topic is about incentive auctions, and TV stations will be incentivised for combining and selling back their spectrum regardless of where they are. Smaller market struggling TV stations will have more of an incentive to cut costs and bring in more money in some way. As a result, the future is suckier HD OTA. I'd say that has a lot to do with this topic.
clone

join:2000-12-11
Portage, IN
Reviews:
·T-Mobile US
Nashville and Memphis aren't the problem. The problems (so they claim) are in NY and Chicago and LA and SF. Because they don't want to spend the money to build the network required to support tomorrow's usage with so many concurrent users.

If the wireless oligarchy can provide usable service today in Manhattan (which they can and do), there will never be a problem in Memphis or Nashville.