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Looking Under the Hood: Technical Paper on Options for Broadcast Spectrum

June 14th, 2010 by Julius Knapp - Chief, Office of Engineering and Technology

The National Broadband Plan stresses that mobile broadband networks, devices, and applications are a critical component of our country’s broadband infrastructure and our economy. It recommends that the FCC repurpose spectrum from several bands to make it available for flexible use, including mobile broadband use. This recommendation includes repurposing 120 megahertz from the broadcast television bands. These bands are attractive due to strong propagation characteristics and relatively low average market value under their current uses compared to recently auctioned flexible use spectrum with similar characteristics.

Today we are releasing an Omnibus Broadband Team Technical Paper called Spectrum Analysis: Options for Broadcast Spectrum that provides further details on the technical analyses that support the recommendations in the National Broadband Plan relative to repurposing the TV broadcast spectrum.  We cannot emphasize strongly enough two critical points that are the cornerstones of the paper.  First, any contributions of spectrum by TV broadcasters to an incentive auction will be voluntary.  Second, consumers will continue to have access to free over-the-air TV broadcasting service and every effort will be made to minimize any losses of service due to repacking of the TV broadcast band.  

This paper presents several new analyses and methodologies that are worth pointing out:

•    The paper offers more detail on how an incentive auction might work. 

•    It presents the first, in-depth analysis and publication by the FCC of actual bandwidth requirements of various video streams.  The analysis provides data to support the assertion that two television stations could voluntarily share a single six-megahertz channel and continue to broadcast their primary video streams in HD.

•    It provides an initial look at a new TV allotment optimization model being developed by the FCC. This model will help to maximize the efficiency and collective benefits of broadcast TV and broadband services in the band.  For example, it will allow the FCC to optimize channel assignments to achieve various objectives within given constraints, such as minimizing disruption to over-the-air television viewers.

This paper represents the start of the process – not the conclusion.   It offers provocative ideas that deserve to be fully vetted and considered.  That is why Chairman Genachowski asked the Commission staff to hold the Broadcast Engineering Forum.  We look forward to a constructive and robust dialogue with TV broadcasters and other interested parties. 

It is entirely possible, and perhaps even likely, that the best ideas on how to repurpose TV broadcast spectrum are yet to be developed or put forward.   We invite readers to comment on the technical paper through this blog and to participate in forthcoming rulemaking proceedings, offering comments and alternatives that can help lead to the best policy decisions for our country. 

Click here to download a pdf of the Spectrum Analysis: Options for Broadcast Spectrum.

8 Responses to “Looking Under the Hood: Technical Paper on Options for Broadcast Spectrum”

  1. Rocky Racoon says:

    It seems that one of the larger wastes of broadcast television spectrum lies in the need for defacto guard bands between noncolocated transmitters. If this could be recovered, it could go a long way toward facilitating repacking.
    The ATSC standard supports SFN operation. How about the placement of lower power infill transmitters near transmitters that are creating adjacent channel interference. This could allow adjacent channel repacking of transmitters in a market without requiring the physical co-location of the high power transmitters. Think of it as a very watered down, and much lower cost, version of the "cellularization of broadcast" operation.
    In further detail as an example; noncolocated, adjacent channels 25 and 26 each create a coverage hole around their transmitter into the other's service area. A lower power transmitter carrying channel 26 material operating in an SFN configuration with the existing high power channel 26 transmitter would be optimally placed within the coverage hole created by the high power adjacent channel 25 transmitter. Likewise a similar lower power channel 25 transmitter would also be placed near the high power channel 26 transmitter to combat its interference into channel 25's coverage area. A completely packed band would require a pair of lower power transmitters for each station to infill the coverage deficiets created by each of its adjacent operators.

  2. Guest says:

    Will the presentations from the Broadcast Engineers Forum be posted here?

  3. cyberdoyle says:

    any mileage in auctioning all the spectrum and using the money it raises to provide decent broadband for rural areas?

  4. Guest says:

    First, please tell me if you have utalized ALL the spectrum you were in such a hurry to obtain from broadcasters when they were forced to switch from analog to digital?
    2nd, you say quote" Second, consumers will continue to have access to free over-the-air TV broadcasting service and every effort will be made to minimize any losses of service due to repacking of the TV broadcast band." How do you expect to do this when broadcasters in may markets are using 100% of their allocated spectrum to provide viewers major network signals? What does "Every Effort" mean? 3rd, I assume you will fine broadcasters in what you call a fee if they do not want to participate in this plan.

  5. Guest says:

    Typical government B.S.

    This is all about pleasing campaign contributors at the expense of the public interest!!!

  6. Guest says:

    It does not appear this Technical Paper was every published in the Daily Digest, as has been done with others. It was also not posted on the FCC's homepage, Media Bureau's homepage or OET's homepage.

    While it was covered by trade press, for a topic that has received so much attention, it is a little disappointing to see it get buried in a blog for both those that put the time into writing it and from a public accessibility standpoint.

    Perhaps it was just an oversight, but hopefully this oversight can be corrected in a timely fashion.

  7. Guest says:

    The previous posting was made almost a week ago and still no FCC action to make this report more widely available by posting it on more places than just a blog. It would be nice if this correction could be made so more members of the public could easily access this report, or if the FCC provides a response as to why the Report will not be made available through more traditional/formal means, such as ECFS, the FCC homepage and the Daily Digest, all of which the White Paper on Public Safety issued in the same week (OBI White Paper #4) were made available.

  8. Guest says:

    Over the air broadcast TV is not free. Have you heard of retransmission consent?

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