Kerry, Snowe Ask FCC To Conclude White Spaces Proceeding

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Senate Communications Subcommittee Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Commerce Committee member Olympia Snowe (R-Me.) are pushing the Federal Communications Commission to conclude its white spaces proceeding and open up the spectrum space between TV station signals for wireless broadband.

In a letter to the chairman datedJune 14, the legislators said they wanted the commission to conclude the now two-year-old proceeding as expeditiously as possible.

"Completing all outstanding white space issues quickly and properly will ensure the promise and potential that has been demonstrated in the past becomes fully realized so consumers and the marketplace can once again benefit," they wrote.
The FCC is also looking to create even more space by encouraging broadcasters to give up spectrum, after which it would repack the channels in the DTV spectrum band to free up spectrum for wireless broadband, particularly in urban markets where the bandwidth need is greatest.

Kerry and Snowe said that it should be a two-front effort.

"The heart of your broadband plan focuses on releasing the full potential of the nation's spectrum as a platform for innovation and relatively low cost broadband deployment when compared with wired solutions," they wrote. "Toward that end, the agency must pursue a harmonized spectrum strategy of both licensed and unlicensed spectrum deployment efforts that will allow manufacturers and consumers to construct multiple paths to the Internet and utilize new devices for communications. Completion of the "white spaces" proceeding can help build momentum in that direction."

They advised against overprotecting broadcast incumbents, who have always been concerned about the potential interference to their DTV signals. "[G]eolocation technology coupled with a database should adequately protect users," they wrote, "and additional spectrum-sensing capabilities should only be required when absolutely necessary since such requirement would unduly drive up the cost of white space devices and deter low cost deployment opportunities."

The FCC is scheduled to produce final white spaces rules in the third quarter, and Kerry and Snowe want the agency to keep to that timetable.

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