Julius Knapp, the Federal Communication Commission's deputy chief of the Office of Engineering and Technology, today announced in his blog the release of an FCC paper, "Spectrum Analysis: Options for Broadband Spectrum." It supports recommendations in the National Broadband Plan that 120 MHz of the broadcast spectrum be turned over for wireless use. "We cannot emphasize strongly enough two critical points that are the cornerstones of the paper," he stressed: Any contributions of spectrum by TV broadcasters for an auction will be voluntary, and viewers will still be able to watch free over-the-air TV. The paper "offers provocative ideas that deserve to be fully vetted and considered," Knapp said.
The paper itself (PDF) points out that "spectrum policy is not easy. Technology changes. Consumer preferences and habits change. Business models change. Allocation priorities change. And this change can be daunting." However, "the benefits of a voluntary approach to broadcast spectrum reallocation may have more upside for all stakeholders—broadcasters, mobile broadband providers and especially consumers—than one might initially expect." It also gently chastises naysayers: "The natural tendency can be to seize on uncertainties and potential negative impacts and thereby marginalize the positive impacts." More about the spectrum auction and its potential impact on public broadcasters in Current's Feb. 8, 2010, issue.