To help fulfill our country’s increasing demand for wireless broadband access, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) plans to reallocate a portion of broadcast spectrum used by television stations and make it available for use by wireless carriers. In many parts of the country, spectrum can be freed up by reorganizing, or repacking, the channels to which television broadcasters are currently assigned. However, in some areas, including some densely populated areas, the FCC will need to buy spectrum before it can reallocate it.
For context, it is helpful to remember that the FCC originally allocated spectrum to TV in the early 40s. Obviously there are no similarities to the current situation. People are calling it “the most challenging disruption to over-the-air TV services in decades.” TV stations are going to have to spend an enormous amount of money retooling everything from towers to edit bays.
The spectrum will be auctioned off and there is a lot of debate about how much money this will bring in with estimates ranging from a low of $35-B to a high of $80B+. More here in Bloomberg. Some techy stuff here.
This is one of those things that has the potential to change if not everything, certainly a lot of things. It will certainly change television but it is also critical for the expansion of the commercial UAV market. Here’s why according to a post from CommLawBlog.com:
Modern aviation systems – both on-board aircraft and on the ground, particularly in the vicinity of airports – use radio spectrum for a variety of important purposes, including communications and navigation.
As it turns out, the FM band is immediately adjacent to a band (108-137 MHz) used by the FAA. Since FM stations generally operate at power levels far greater than FAA equipment, the chances that FM stations might cause electromagnetic interference to nearby FAA facilities are not trivial.