Television broadcasters may share their digital channels to make room for mobile high-speed Internet service under rules regulators are to consider, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski said.
The voluntary sharing and eased rules for experimental use of airwaves are among strategies the agency plans to discuss at its meeting next month, Genachowski said yesterday in an interview. The proposals also are on the agenda at a FCC- sponsored forum in Washington today, he said.
Airwaves represent “as important an infrastructure opportunity as anything else,” Genachowski said. “If we get this right we can catalyze billions of dollars in private investment.”
President Barack Obama in June said the United States should almost double the airwaves available for smartphones, laptop connections to the Internet and new wireless devices.
“We’re going to continue to move forward aggressively at the FCC,” Genachowski said. Rule changes are needed for stations to share airwaves, and to allow other uses in their space, he added.
TV stations transmit using digital technology and can broadcast two or more channels over airwaves that supported a single channel using the analog format, according to an FCC fact sheet. Letting stations voluntarily share channels would free airwaves that might be auctioned for other uses, according to the agency document.
Broadcasters have said they need their current swath of airwaves to offer viewers multiple, simultaneous programs, and to expand into services such as mobile TV.
Dennis Wharton, a spokesman for the National Association of Broadcasters, in an e-mail said the Washington-based trade group “looks forward to working with the FCC” to meet the needs of a mobile Internet “without compromising the finest free and local broadcasting system in the world.”
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