Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Good News for the Incentive Auction Process!

CTIA and Los Angeles TV stations KLCS and KJLA just announced they are going to undertake a pilot spectrum sharing project to show that, "if implemented in markets across the country, as part of the upcoming auction of television broadcast spectrum, channel sharing would allow over-the-air broadcasters to continue providing -- and enhancing -- quality content without impacting their viewers while reducing infrastructure costs." In the pilot project, the two LA television stations are going to share a single over-the-air television channel, with their primary and multicast content shared in a single digital stream capable of carrying multiple HD and standard definition video services.

This initiation of this pilot project is very welcome news because, ultimately, the success of the spectrum incentive auction depends on having broadcasters decide to offer up some of their spectrum for auction, which spectrum then would be available to be auctioned for use by others -- presumably, wireless broadband providers -- in what's called a forward auction. If spectrum sharing along the lines contemplated in the pilot project proves feasible, then the chances for a "win-win-win" in the incentive auction increase substantially.

The broadcasters win because they receive the proceeds of the spectrum auctioned in the forward auction, the wireless operators win because they obtain additional spectrum needed to keep upgrading and expanding their networks, the public safety community wins because it receives some designated portion of the auction proceeds for building out a new first responder network -- and, if the auction is properly structured, there should be some left over for the U.S. Treasury [read: we taxpayers].

I don't know how the pilot project will work out, of course. But, in any event, it is likely to produce useful information. For that, CTIA, KLCS, and KJLA deserve our thanks.