Academic journal article Northwestern University Law Review

Reallocating the Instructional Television Fixed Service Electromagnetic Spectrum at 2.5 GHz

Academic journal article Northwestern University Law Review

Reallocating the Instructional Television Fixed Service Electromagnetic Spectrum at 2.5 GHz

Article excerpt

Comments

I. INTRODUCTION

"In the early 1980s, a marketing firm hired by AT&T to survey the potential U.S. market for its newly inaugurated cellular phone service arrived at an estimate of less than 900,000 users by the year 2000. ",

As of December 2000, there were 109,478,031 mobile wireless subscribers in the United States.I

Wireless communications services is one of the fastest growing segments of the communications industry.3' It is estimated that half of all telecommunications services will be wireless by the year 20 10.4 To help meet this burgeoning demand for wireless services, Congress has mandated that approximately 200 megahertz of wireless spectrum be reallocated to enable a broad range of new wireless communications services.' IMAGE FORMULA8

On September 24, 2001 the FCC released its First Report and Order ("First R&O") regarding the reallocation of approximately 190 megahertz of spectrum in the 2.5 GHz band.6 The spectrum at 2.5 GHz is currently occupied by two types of services: Instructional Television Fixed Service ("ITFS") and Multichannel Multipoint Distribution Service ("MMDS").7 In the First R&O, the FCC ruled out the possibility of reallocating the approximately 190 megahertz of spectrum at 2.5 GHz.8 By not reallocating the ITFS spectrum at 2.5 GHz, the FCC failed to open additional spectrum for new wireless services. The FCC also failed to rectify an unfortunate line of rulemaking under which it has engaged in a multibillion dollar giveaway of the public electromagnetic spectrum.9

The FCC was wrong not to reallocate the ITFS spectrum at 2.5 GHz IMAGE FORMULA10

for three reasons: a) wireless spectrum is public property, and the FCC unjustly enriched private organizations when it gave away valuable ITFS licenses and then modified the rules to permit the licensees to lease the spectrum for commercial, noneducational purposes;10 b) reallocation of the ITFS spectrum is necessary in order for the FCC to comply with congressional mandates that require the FCC to reallocate additional wireless spectrum and to ensure that all cross-subsidies of telecommunications services are explicit;li and c) reallocation of the ITFS spectrum would facilitate the commercial development of the spectrum at 2.5 GHz by allowing the ITFS spectrum to be licensed in consistent, contiguous geographic areas.12

This Comment evaluates the FCC's decision to not reallocate the ITFS and MMDS spectrum at 2.5 GHz. It also evaluates the merits of an alternative the FCC should have considered but did not: reallocating and auctioning just the ITFS spectrum at 2.5 GHz. Part II discusses the incumbent systems in the 2.5 GHz band including an overview of ITFS and MMDS, the educational and commercial services that currently occupy the spectrum at 2.5 GHz. Part II also discusses the FCC's current approach to licensing and regulating the spectrum at 2.5 GHz. Next, Part III discusses the FCC's First R&O and its decision to not reallocate the spectrum at 2.5 GHz as well as the history that led up to the First R&O. Part IV discusses the current telecommunications marketplace and why there is a need for additional wireless spectrum. Finally, Part V evaluates the merits of reallocating the spectrum at 2.5 GHz for new wireless services.

The FCC was wrong not to reallocate the ITFS spectrum at 2.5 GHz. The ITFS electromagnetic spectrum at 2.5 GHz should be reallocated for new wireless services. The current licensing scheme of the ITFS spectrum at 2.5 GHz is a form of unjust enrichment. Reallocation is also necessary to comply with congressional and executive mandates. Lastly, reallocation would facilitate the commercial development of the ITFS spectrum.

II. THE INCUMBENT SYSTEMS iN THE 2.5 GHz BAND

Instructional Television Fixed Service ("ITFS") and Multipoint Multichannel Distribution Service ("MMS") occupy the spectrum at 2. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.