Broadcast supporters claim new plan will raise $125B for government by 2026

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The wireless industry’s attempts to shake loose additional spectrum assets from the federal government could run into a stumbling block as the Coalition For Free TV and Broadband said it would endorse a broadband deployment plan put forth by television broadcasters that they claim will result in up to $125 billion being raised for the U.S. Treasury by 2026.

The monetary amount is being compared with the $25 billion expected to be raised during an auction of airwaves the Federal Communications Commission is looking to extract from the broadcast community to put into the hands of the wireless space.

“We have delivered to Congress a robust plan that continues the broadcast industry’s decades-long record of serving our local communities,” noted Mark Aitken, VP of advanced technology for Sinclair Broadcast Group, in a press release “A ‘Broadcast Overlay’ serves multiple objectives by delivering a solution providing wireless high data-rate capacity, continues to maximize the efficient use of broadcast TV spectrum, offers the public new wireless service choices, and creates an entirely brand-new revenue stream for the U.S. Treasury.”

Aitken added that the monetary figures would break out to $80 billion over 10 years, $125 billion over 15 years and include a continuing revenue stream of more than $400 billion.

The FCC has said it was looking to free up 500 megahertz of wireless spectrum to fuel network build outs in support of increased mobile broadband demand. Much of that spectrum was expected to come from broadcasters returning unneeded or unused spectrum that could then be auctioned to wireless providers.

However, broadcasters have been reluctant to give up any spectrum assets leading to talk of so-called “incentive auctions” that would provide broadcasters with a portion of the proceeds garnered from the auctioning of their returned spectrum assets. This plan has run into roadblocks as current laws require all assets from spectrum auctions to be turned over to the U.S. Treasury.

Wireless industry trade association CTIA noted earlier this year that the government could raise $33 billion from the auctioning of 120 megahertz of spectrum currently controlled by broadcasters. The FCC raised nearly $20 billion in 2008 during the auction of spectrum licenses in the 700 MHz band that had been previously used by broadcasters.

The Coalition For Free TV and Broadband also took a stab at the wireless industry for trying to secure additional spectrum assets for entrenched “wireless monopolies,” and that a recent report from Citigroup showed that the spectrum shortage claimed by the mobile space was overhyped.

“The CTIA, representing the wireless industry, continues to cry for the need for more spectrum although Citigroup’s analysis suggests that spectrum crisis claims have been manufactured by the wireless and consumer electronics industries,” the coalition noted.

The Coalition For Free TV and Broadband said it plans to host a news conference in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 20 to unveil the Broadcaster Broadband Plan.

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Dan Meyer

Editor-in-Chief, Telecom Software, Policy, Wireless Carriers
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Dan Meyer started at RCR Wireless News in 1999 covering wireless carriers and wireless technologies. As editor-in-chief, Dan oversees editorial direction, reports on news from the wireless industry, including telecom software, policy and wireless carriers, and provides opinion stories on topics of concern to the market such as his popular Friday column “Worst of the Week.”

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