FCC paves way for 52-59


Interactive TV would be among the new services allowed on spectrum now used
for TV channels 52-59, according to frequency reallocation rules approved by the
FCC Wednesday.

Like today's TV channels, the new frequencies would be sliced into 6 mHz

'Several broadcasters have expressed interest' in launching new services on
the band, said Bruce Franca, acting chief of the FCC Office of Engineering and
Technology. The reallocation rules were approved along with measures giving
broadcasters operating or holding allotments on channels 52-59 permission to
negotiate buyouts from new users expected to bid on the spectrum.

Broadcasters that give up digital allotments there would be required to
switch their remaining analog channel to digital in 2002 to meet requirements of
the DTV transition.

Those broadcasters and operators of analog operators that also give up that
portion of the band would be entitled to demand cable carriage when they are
left with a sole, digital signal.

Under the reallocation, which will also permits fixed and mobile wireless
services, the spectrum will be divided into three 12-megahertz blocks.

Two of the blocks will be sold to 12 bidders in six geographic regions of the
country. The third block will be divvied into licenses covering 734 metro and
rural areas.

The buyouts, similar to deals permitted previously for broadcasters on
channels 60-69, are necessary for the quick rollout of new communications services, the FCC says.