Congress passed the National Broadband Plan in March 2010. It directed the FCC to design a new communication plan to make broadband access more affordable and widespread. This plan, when it goes into effect, would free up around 500Mhz of a new wireless spectrum. This would occur within 10 years to make commercial licensed and unlicensed use available. The plan recommends that 300Mhz to 400 Mhz of the white spectrum frequency space become available sometime within the next five years.
Not so New
The white space spectrum is already undergoing testing and review. This began earlier this year. Two locations, one located in Wilmington, N.C., and one in the county of New Hanover became the first communities to test the wireless applications. Specifically they were to use TV white-space technology. So far, so good;it has been a success. The other part of the plan calls for dealing by expanding the $8 billion Universal Service Fund. This fund will provide subsidized phone services throughout the U.S., and it is to include broadband services.
The plan, however, has its own controversial elements. One deals with the reallocation of the wireless spectrum. According to the plan, the FCC is to reallocate about 20MHz of the underutilized government spectrum. Moreover, it wants the agency to obtain, from TV broadcasters, 120MHz of the spectrum. FCC officials are hopeful that TV broadcasters will voluntarily relinquish a part of the spectrum. It provides incentives to encourage TV broadcasters operating in the largest markets, to deploy the new white spectrum in certain areas first, and they are to re-auction their licenses, making them available to smaller broadcasters. While some of this may sound promising, it is up in the air since some broadcasters are reluctant to embrace the plan.