NAB Reports That There Is No Spectrum Crisis

April 26, 2011. The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) released a paper [PDF] titled "Solving the Capacity Crunch: Options for Enhancing Data Capacity on Wireless Networks". The author is Uzoma Unyeije. See also, NAB release.

The report states this. "Is massive spectrum reallocation urgently needed to address the capacity concerns of wireless
carriers? The simple answer is no."

And this. "Many wireless carriers and their trade associations argue that the FCC must make hundreds of megahertz of spectrum available for wireless broadband in order to keep pace with customers' growing mobile data demands. But this is not so. Capacity problems can be addressed in numerous ways that do not involve spectrum. So while additional spectrum is a tool that can help relieve congestion on mobile networks, the current rush to reallocate is not necessary."

Rather, wireless companies only "face a capacity crunch in a limited number of locations".

The NAB argues that technology continues to advance in ways that alleviates capacity concerns. The paper addresses spectral efficiency, migrating voice traffic to internet protocol, use of femtocells and wi-fi, and other innovations.

The NAB paper also urges policies, such as "Reclaiming hundreds of megahertz of spectrum from speculators and warehousers", increased licensing flexibility, and improved secondary markets for spectrum.

This paper offers an assessment different from that expressed in the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) March 15, 2010, staff report [376 pages in PDF] titled "A National Broadband Plan for Our Future". See also, story titled "FCC Releases National Broadband Plan" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 2,058, March 15, 2010.

That FCC report stated that "The FCC should initiate a rule making proceeding to reallocate 120 megahertz from the broadcast television (TV) bands."

More generally, that report stated that the FCC should "Free up and allocate additional spectrum for unlicensed use", "Make 500 megahertz of spectrum newly available for broadband within 10 years, of which 300 megahertz should be made available for mobile use within five years", and "Expand opportunities for innovative spectrum access models by creating new avenues for opportunistic and unlicensed use of spectrum".

Also, President Obama issued a Memorandum on June 28, 2010, in which he asked the FCC and National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to identify and make available 500 megahertz of spectrum. On April 4, 2011, the NTIA released a report [PDF] titled "First Interim Progress Report on the Ten-Year Plan and Timetable" that address the status of attaining this 500 megahertz goal.

On Thursday, May 5, 2011, at 10:00 AM, the Brookings Institution will host a panel discussion titled "Bridging the Digital Divide: Spectrum Policy, Program Diversity and Consumer Rights". The speakers will be Uzoma Unyeije (author of the NAB paper), Darrell West (Brookings), Matthew Hussey (office of Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME)), and Christopher Ornelas (NAB). See, notice.