On December 2, 2009, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a Public Notice in its National Broadband Plan docket seeking a broad range of information on television broadcasters' current use of spectrum. As noted in the Public Notice and in other items in this docket, the Commission is reviewing spectrum bands "to understand if all or a portion of the spectrum within these bands could be repurposed for wireless broadband services."

The Public Notice seeks comment on a wide range of issues within four general topics:

  • What should be the FCC's general approach to spectrum assessment? (e.g., the factors that should be considered in comparing broadcasters' use of spectrum to potential wireless broadband applications; the effect on the economy of insufficient additional spectrum for wireless broadband deployment; the economic impact of diminishing free, over-the-air television broadcasting; new technical capabilities for broadcasting created through the digital television (DTV) transition; broadcasters' future plans for use of licensed spectrum; the impact of audiences' increased use of time-shifting technology; and the FCC's potential statutory obligation to evaluate the spectrum allocated to broadcast television)
  • What are potential methods of increasing spectrum availability and efficiency? (e.g., channel-sharing arrangements; collocation of facilities; potential improvement of video capabilities over time through use of MPEG-2 and 8-VSB technologies; potential gain in spectral efficiencies through the establishment of antenna and receiver standards; and the percentage of broadcast programming streams that are transmitted over the air to MVPDs)
  • What are the benefits of free, over-the-air television broadcasting? (e.g. dissemination of emergency information, local news, political discourse and education)
  • What mechanisms would enable broadcasters to choose whether to make spectrum ("excess or otherwise") available for reallocation to wireless broadband use?

Comments were due by December 21, 2009. A copy of the Public Notice is available here.