The National Association of Broadcasters joined a group of Verizon critics taking aim at the company's spectrum sale plans, announced Wednesday.
In response to the news that, if it were allowed to buy spectrum from cable operators, it would sell the 700 MHz spectrum it bought at auction in 2008, NAB spokesman Dennis Wharton said, "Today's proposal by Verizon to sell reallocated broadcast TV spectrum involves airwaves in the largest urban markets in America that it purchased more than four years ago. The fact that it has warehoused this ‘beachfront property' raises the fundamental question of whether a spectrum shortage actually exists."
NAB has long questioned the crisis mode for spectrum reclamation that appears to be pushing government policy.
"Rather than simply take at face value the specious claims of wireless broadband providers, policymakers should heed the words of Martin Cooper, the inventor of the cellphone, who disputes the notion of a spectrum crisis," said Wharton.
Cooper has for a couple of years now been arguing that the FCC should focus more on the efficient use of already- available spectrum rather than taking it from broadcasters and other current licensees, which he said is much more difficult.
Adding their voices in concern, if not outright protest, Wednesday was the Communications Workers of America. "Today's announcement may be in response to the growing opposition [including CWA's] this [cable spectrum deal] deal faces in communities across the country," said CWA. "It may be an attempt by Verizon Wireless and the cable companies to forestall greater scrutiny by the FCC and the DOJ. Regardless, we will study the proposal to assess its impact on consumers and workers."
Verizon argues that buying the cable spectrum and selling the 700 MHz spectrum is simply a better way to serve customers by aligning its holdings with the 4G LTE service it is rolling out.
"Verizon purchased these licenses in 2008 to have available spectrum to meet customers' increasing demand for wireless services," a Verizon official told B&C Wednesday. "In 2008, we also purchased the 700 MHz upper C block spectrum which we're using robustly today to build out our 4G LTE network. Given the tremendous capabilities inherent in our 4G LTE network, we are focusing on what we believe to be the right mix of spectrum assets needed for us to expand that network, which includes AWS spectrum. For other carriers, the 700 MHz A or B Block licenses may make more sense."
"By denying that there is a need for additional spectrum for wireless broadband service, NAB remains firmly committed to its membership in the Flat-Earth Society." said CTIA VP, government affairs, Jot Carpenter. "The fact is wireless is revolutionizing the way that we consume media, deliver health care, provide education and manage transportation systems. Moving spectrum to where it can be used to support those applications makes a lot more sense than dedicating it to a service whose product is readily accessible on cable, satellite or, increasingly, the Internet."