Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Spectrum developments down under and across the pond


Last week TeleGeography reported that the Australian government is to sell off 126MHz of UHF spectrum to be used for wireless communications services. This spectrum will become available as a result of the switch to digital-only television broadcasting (the so-called "digital dividend"), which will be completed in Australia by 31 December 2013. From the official press release:
"UHF spectrum currently used for broadcasting services is highly valued for delivering wireless communications services, including super-fast mobile broadband. It is able to carry signals over long distances, penetrate buildings and carry large amounts of data...in its submission to the Digital Dividend green paper, the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA) indicated that Australia’s economy could be boosted by up to $10 billion if at least 120 megahertz of usable spectrum is unlocked from the digital dividend."
The digital dividend green paper and copies of submissions received are available here. In the US earlier this week, Barack Obama pledged to speed up the availability of high-speed internet across the US by nearly doubling the availability of airwaves during the next 10 years. From the FT (Obama pledges to increase internet capacity):
"A memorandum signed by the US president would free up 500 megahertz of spectrum held by both the US government and US corporations to fulfil an ever-growing demand for broadband services."
However the announcement has not been universally welcomed. This from the Financial Post:
"There are some potential roadblocks. Some broadcasters ranging from small independent stations to affiliates of major networks have resisted offering up the rights to their spectrum. However, the White House has recently given assurances that if they voluntarily hand spectrum over for auction, they will share in the proceeds."
And this from Business Week:
"The proposals may face resistance from television station owners such as CBS Corp. and News Corp.’s Fox Broadcasting that gave up airwaves as part of their switch to digital signals last year, and have sought to keep their remaining allocation. Wireless carriers led by AT&T Inc. are seeking more spectrum."
The official announcement is available here.

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