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FCC eyes TV airwaves for bandwidth

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Steve Chiotakis: Today’s the last day the Federal Communications Commission will take public comments on a national broadband plan, the idea to ensure all Americans have high-speed Internet access. And
the White House asked the FCC to have something together by February. And broadcasters have a lot to say about the issue, as Marketplace’s Nancy Marshall Genzer reports.


Steve Chiotakis: If every American is going to have access to high-speed Internet service, we’re going to have to scare up more spectrum — more space on the airwaves for all that texting, calling and downloading. But spectrum is scarce.

Blair Levin heads the FCC’s broadband task force. He says we’re already facing a crisis.

Blair Levin: Consumers increasingly want to be able to use wireless means of communications to do a variety of things that requires greater bandwidth.

Where do you get that bandwidth? From TV broadcasters. Levin says they don’t need all their spectrum because most people get TV through cable.

But broadcasters say they have plans for their airwaves. They want to beam live local TV to cell phones and laptops.

Dennis Wharton is executive vice president of the National Association of Broadcasters:

Dennis Wharton: The FCC, if it were to go through with some of these plans, would in essence kill this opportunity in the cradle.

Broadcasters plan to take that message to Congress when it considers the FCC’s broadband plan next year.

In Washington, I’m Nancy Marshall Genzer for Marketplace.

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