Saturday, January 26, 2008

TV "White Space" Spectrum Debate Simmers

For those following the TV spectrum "white spaces" debate currently simmering on the FCC's back burner, here is a policy backgrounder worth a read from Sascha Meinrath and the New America Foundation:

According to Meinrath, "smart" wireless devices can use the unassigned frequencies between broadcast TV channels to offer wireless broadband and other innovative services. A rulemaking is pending at the FCC (Docket 04-186 - with over 11,000 comments from the public and industry to date) as to whether to permit unlicensed access to this currently wasted spectrum, subject to technical requirements that will protect television reception from interference. Access to the vacant TV channels in each market has been the subject of intense lobbying, yet far too many of the arguments against "white space" devices rely upon misinformation about the technologies and the FCC process that will prevent harmful interference to DTV reception and other incumbent services.

This policy backgrounder offers a summary analysis, and is an effort to help policymakers strike the appropriate balance between protecting existing services from interference while making the benefits of mobile broadband services available and affordable for all consumers. It provides policymakers with:

  1. a brief historical background to the current FCC proceedings;
  2. a description of White Space Device (WSD) technologies;
  3. a “Myths vs. Facts” section addressing the key concerns raised about WSDs;
  4. an overview of the public benefits of WSDs; and
  5. a concise summary of where we are in the multi-phase process of adopting WSD technologies for consumer use.

The complete document should be reviewed by anyone interested in or concerned about the development of "white space devices" (WSD's), FCC regulation, and technology -- because spectrum matters.