The Consumer Electronics Association and CTIA-The Wireless
Association say they know how to preserve over-the-air broadcasting, including
HD, while freeing up spectrum for wireless broadband. But it will take a
radical remake of the current broadcasting system.
In a filing at the FCC on spectrum reclamation, the pair
said it would require re-engineering a system that now depends on full-power
stations with interference protection that leaves too many channels unused.
Instead, they say, the government could change the current
high power-high tower system into a low-power network of multiple transmitters
that would allow stations to operate close to each other and free up channels
for other uses.
The groups argue that could free up 100-180 MHz for mobile
broadband, while leaving consumer equipment intact and allowing broadcasters to
continue to use all of their 19.4 mbps data stream and 6 MHz channels.
They also say broadcasters should not be asked to cover the
cost of such a transition. Though they concede there would be some disruption
as broadcasters went from one transmitter to a network of them, they add that
would be balanced against the value of freeing spectrum for other uses.
The groups project the cost at between $1.37 billion and
$1.83 billion, which they call "well within the realm of reason given the
value of the spectrum." That value has been estimated as high as $60
CEA and CTIA said the proposal was an effort to make "spectrum
available for important wireless broadband needs while ensuring no disruption
for consumers and no injuries to over-the-air full-power broadcast television
capabilities while, at the same time, potentially enabling next generation
television services along with next generation wireless spectrum."