FCC to Finally Auction Controversial Chunk of Spectrum for Mobile Data

Illustration for article titled FCC to Finally Auction Controversial Chunk of Spectrum for Mobile Data

The Federal Communications Commission has finally voted to open up 10MHz of spectrum for "commercial mobile services"—that has until now been protected because of interference concerns.

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The spectrum block, sitting between 1915-1920MHz and 1995-2000MHz, is called the H block and could be ready for use as soon as early 2014. Previously the FCC has kept the spectrum clear because of concerns about interference with a nearby Personal Communication Service block.

In some desperation, the FCC decided to set up a series of technical rules to stop the H block from interfering with PCS signals. As a result, it's now ready to be auctioned off. The good news is that more spectrum means better mobile data—or at least, mobile data that doesn't get slower with time. [PC World]

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DISCUSSION

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While it is a nice bit of spectrum due to its contiguity to the PCS band (in theory, the range of PCS products might be extended to accommodate the new spectrum, so it could be brought on line faster), the reality is that it is a drop in the bucket given the expansion of data demand. Reviewing the commercial mobile bands where broadband data services are offered in the US, the PCS band is already 100 MHz, add in 50 MHz for the cellular band, 90 MHz for AWS, 70 MHz for the upper/lower 700 MHz bands, 20 MHz for WCS, 20 for ESMR, and about 200 MHz for EBS/BRS, and we're incrementally expanding the amount of capacity—like less than 2%? What we really need is to complete the transition of the 600 MHz broadcast TV band for mobile services, which promises more like 120 MHz, and get the government to cough up the 1755-1780 MHz band, which would allow a 50 MHz extension to the AWS band when paired with spectrum in the FCC's inventory. 170 MHz of new spectrum would yield some significant improvements.