After our deadline last Friday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted a Report & Order (R&O) it believes may spur broadcasters to hand over channels for an auction benefiting the wireless carriers.

The R&O allows multiple broadcast stations to stream individual programming while sharing a single channel – if they want to. “Specifically, the R&O establishes a framework for how two or more television licensees may voluntarily share a single 6 MHz channel in conjunction with the auction process,” the agency says, adding, “The new rules apply to full-power and Class A television stations, including both commercial and noncommercial educational television stations. The rules neither increase nor decrease the cable and satellite carriage rights currently afforded broadcast licensees.”

Stations that opt to share a will continue to be licensed separately; they will retain their original call signs and all the rights pertaining to an FCC license; and they will remain subject to all of the FCC’s rules, policies and obligations.

Industry Responses

Commented Gary Shapiro, president/CEO at the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA),  “The nation’s spectrum crisis is real, and it is here. The FCC’s action today is a key step toward ensuring that additional spectrum for wireless broadband is available so that all Americans can enjoy the robust mobile broadband networks that our nation so desperately needs. We applaud the FCC for its efforts to help our nation move forward toward more efficient use of valuable spectrum. We have only just begun the journey. I urge full cooperation from all stakeholders in the broadcast, wireless and manufacturing communities as we unleash the limitless potential of wireless broadband.”

Added Steve Largent, president/CEO at CTIA-The Wireless Association, "By allowing broadcasters to share channels, the FCC is making TV spectrum license holders more efficient users of this finite resource. In turn, consumers will benefit as wireless providers will have an opportunity to purchase the repacked spectrum for billions at auction."

In separate FCC news, the agency’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau is teaming with the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA) to host a workshop May 1 focusing on collocations of wireless and broadband antennas on wireless and other communications towers and structures. The session will be held in the Commission Meeting Room at FCC headquarters in Washington, D.C. from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The workshop will provide an overview of wireless collocations that augment mobile broadband and wireless services in cities and communities, and it aims to help inform municipal leaders, planners and the public how wireless collocations can provide benefits and economic opportunities by expanding mobile broadband and wireless data coverage, and aiding first responders.

For more information, contact Don Johnson at 202/418-7444 or by e-mail at donald.johnson@fcc.gov.

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