FCC vote opens up way for wireless

UPDATE

On November 4, the FCC voted 5-0 in favor of opening up unused television spectrum ("white spaces") for the Internet.  A statement issued by Free Press said this would make the Internet available to more people: "Over the past eight years, the United States has fallen behind many other world leaders in providing fast, affordable Internet access.  Nearly half of American homes are still not connected to broadband."   READ MORE

The National Association of Broadcasters issued a statement critical of the decision.  They feared it would interfere with television signals, and they felt the public didn't have enough time to consider the issue.  "While we appreciate the FCC's attempt to address significant issues raised by broadcasters and others, every American who values interference-free TV should be concerned by today's Commission vote."

You can go to the FCC web site to read their news releases, including a November 4th release from each of the members of the commission explaining their vote.  In a separate November 6th release from the Broadband Summit, Commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate called broadband "vital to this nation's information revolution" and said the commission would collaborate with branches of government to fulfill the mission to bring broadband to "every corner of America."

 

October 30, 2008

On November 4, the Federal Communications Commission is set to vote on whether to allow unlicensed use of "white spaces" between television channels.  If passed, it would open up the spectrum for wireless broadband access.

We profiled Wally Bowen as a Media Giraffe (see his profile here, including a 60-minute MGP interview)--and he has been pushing for the use of the spectrum for a long time.  In this YouTube video clip from August of 2008, Wally Bowen explains what it means for rural communities.  This spectrum, called "Wi-Fi on steroids" by Google co-founder Larry Page (Google has been a strong advocate of the vote--see Google CEO Eric Schmidt's letter to the FCC), can get around mountains and trees.

Supporters of the measure include companies that would benefit from the open spectrum such as Google and Microsoft, advocates of Internet access for rural communities such as Wally Bowen, and advocates for freedom of the Internet.

The National Association of Broadcasters would like the vote to be delayed, stating in this letter to the FCC that the public has not had proper time to review a study on whether the changes would affect television signals.

The FCC is made up of five commissioners appointed by the president--only three of which can be from the same party.  In this case, three are Republican and two are Democrats.  To pass, the measure must receive at least three votes.