Monday, March 20, 2006


Unlicensed Use of TV Whitespace

There are two bills before the Senate, both introduced on the same day (Feb. 17, 2006), that would, if they became law, make the spectrum of unused TV channels available for use by unlicensed devices, much as we use Wi-Fi today. I thought there was only one bill when I wrote about it a couple of weeks ago -- I was wrong. The two bills are S. 2332, introduced by Ted Stevens, D-AK, and S. 2327, a bipartisan effort of George Allen, R-VA, Barbara Boxer, D-CA, John Kerry, D-MA, and John Sununu, R-NH.

Both bills would permit unlicensed, non-exclusive use of unassigned, non-licensed television broadcast channels. Both direct the FCC to complete Docket ET-04-186 (.pdf), entitled, "Unlicensed Operation in the TV Broadcast Bands and Additional Spectrum for Unlicensed Devices Below 900 MHz in the 3 GHz Band, dated May 25, 2004. ET-04-186 has been dormant since Kevin Martin became FCC Chairman.

The Allen, Boxer, Kerry, Sununu bill is the simpler of the two. The Stevens bill addresses somewhat less spectrum and has language to protect incumbent TV licensees in adjacent spectrum, to address interference complaints and to subject unlicensed devices operating in TV spectrum to technical certification.

I was puzzled by FCC Chairman Martin's foot dragging in this matter, so I tried to track down his comments on spectrum reform and found this contorted statement that seems to address the problem by FUD, citing completely irrelevant matters.

Elsewhere, Martin said, "At bottom, the Commission is a creature of Congress," so maybe S. 2327 and S. 2332 are exactly the right medicine.

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contorted is understatement...

Most rural areas of the country have huge amounts of whitespace that can easily be dealt with. I wonder if the commissioner has visited rural America ... most people use satellite TV these days

sigh ....
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