FCC considering taking some TV spectrum, auctioning it off for wireless broadband


More FCC news for you, this Wednesday morning (and before Droid news consumes us all). The agency is considering taking some of the bandwidth that is currently allocated to digital television, and auctioning it off so that broadband companies can bid on it. The point, of course, is to increase the availability of wireless broadband.

There’s a few sides here, each with some valid points. You’ve got the current TV station owners who, as you might expect, don’t want to lose any spectrum, even if you compensate them with giant bags of money. Then there’s the broadband companies who are all, “Please oh please let us have the spectrum, so we can create some new broadband service, and sit back and watch the money roll in.” You’ve got people who are against the move because it might put in jeopardy the spectrum that the federal government spent billions of dollars convincing people to switch to (the switch to digital TV). And then you’ve got people who just hate the FCC, and think that regulating the Internet isn’t even part of its charge.

It’s important to keep in mind that, by definition, the spectrum belongs to all of us, as citizens. It should be used in such a way that is beneficial to the most citizens and not just a handful of TV station owners, for example.

Now, will this even happen, auctioning off some spectrum so that broadband companies will bid? It might happen, but no rules will be put in place till February at the next big FCC meeting.

A strong argument in favor of this: broadband access is simply more useful than traditional TV. You can only watch TV, which is fine. With broadband, you can watch, sure, but you can also participate (in debates relevant to you: PS3 vs. Xbox, the public option vs. something else, etc.), which is vital to having a fully informed citizenry.

But don’t freak out: the FCC can say, come February, “Yeah, we can’t do that broadband spectrum auction thing. Sorry. Next question.”