Thirty-six years ago, our attention was focused on a toothy great white shark which was terrorizing Amity Island, thanks to the artistry of Steven Spielberg and Peter Benchley. This summer, the dysfunctional family of 535 elected representatives to Congress are chomping up government expenditures looking for any savings that can’t be labeled a tax increase.
For a bit, Senator Harry Reid had thrown spectrum auctions into the water along with the other chum – advocated by the wireless telephony and consumer electronics industries and worrisome to the television broadcast industry (disclosure: I work for a small sliver of the latter). That was withdrawn in the final agreement.
However, if you might think it’s safe to go back in the water, look for it to come up again in the so-called “super committee” that’s been put together to eliminate some more of the deficit by Christmas. Marguerite Reardon has a good summary of the situation at CNET.
An accelerated auction without adequate compensation to broadcasters who will have to move their channels in a repacking move could be harmful, and there are important considerations concerning interference and reduced coverage. On the other hand, broadcasters would also have an opportunity to use 4G and later systems for their own content distribution. So, it’s a mixed bag and it’s important to have enough time to plan and make necessary adjustments if spectrum is to be redeployed from broadcasting to telephony and wireless data. --Dennis
[NB: Photo by Terry Goss and used under Creative Commons Attribution]