Battle Likely to Escalate Among Lobbyists on Spectrum Access

Look for more heated words between consumer electronics industry advocates and broadcasters over the use of airwaves for advanced, wireless communications services. One result of such inter-industry squabbling is a slowdown of Federal policy-making. Regulators, including the FCC where this battle is now being fought, generally wait for feuding parties to resolve their own differences before official rules are established. At the very least, the feuding – and eventual court resolution – may carry this battle well into the next decade – thus potentially affecting the market for new products to be used on the contested airwaves.

Here are the latest skirmishes: The National Association of Broadcasters has dismissed a study funded by the Consumer Electronics Association and submitted to the FCC along with CEA’s comments that broadcasting airwaves could be put to better use. NAB contends that the CEA study “ignores the immeasurable public benefit of a vibrant free and local broadcasting system.”

Following a scathing condemnation of the CEA study in a TV-centric online publication, CEA President Gary Shapiro issued a response, noting that NAB and CEA have cooperated on past activities, but that their outlooks differ on the future use of airwaves.

“The nation desperately needs spectrum, and every year fewer Americans rely on the broadcasting spectrum,” Shapiro said. “We have not proposed as spectrum grab by the government, but would welcome creative alternatives which reward broadcasters for consolidation of spectrum usage.”

“We want a discussion, not a political battle,” Shapiro added. Another major player in the debate – CTIA: the wireless association – has also pushed for great access to broadcaster’s bandwidth.

As more is heard from Silicon Valley and other communities with designs on those airwaves, the battle will heat up. For CE makers and dealers, the opportunities for new products to be used in that spectrum space are plentiful, but painfully distant.

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