Prominent spectrum engineers refute broadcast industry claims

Jul 12, 2006 1:34 am
On June 28, the Senate Commerce Committee completed its mark-up of comprehensive telecom reform legislation. The Committee included, without amendment, Title VI, the "Wireless Innovation Act of 2006," which directs the FCC to open the vacant, unused TV channel frequencies in each local TV market (also known as TV band “white space”) for unlicensed wireless broadband use (FCC Docket 04-186). Originally sponsored by Senators Stevens (R-AK), Allen (R-VA), Sununu (R-NH), Boxer (D-CA), Kerry (D-MA) and Dorgan (D-ND), the provision is supported by a majority of both parties due to the enormous potential it holds to spread affordable wireless broadband access, particularly to rural areas.

Unfortunately, the broadcast TV and wireless microphone industries oppose the proposal and continue to spread misinformation about it, arguing that allowing unlicensed use of this white space would cause harmful interference to the 13% of American households that continue to rely on over-the-air TV reception (the rest subscribe to cable or satellite TV). New America's Issue Brief—authored by three of the nation's most respected spectrum engineers—demonstrates why the broadcasters' technical claims are unfounded.

“Why Unlicensed Use of Vacant TV Spectrum Will Not Cause Interference to DTV Viewers,” explains why the use of “smart radios,” in combination with the conventional FCC rulemaking process, will be enough to ensure that DTV receivers and other licensed uses of the TV band are not harmed by unlicensed devices. This Issue Brief expands on and updates an earlier one released by New America in October 2005, and incorporates responses to the incumbents’ latest arguments on Capitol Hill. The co-authors are:

Michael Marcus, former FCC Associate Chief for Technology, Office of Engineering and Technology
Paul Kolodzy, former Chair, FCC Spectrum Policy Task Force
Andrew Lippman, founding Associate Director, MIT Media Lab

Other useful documents on the TV White Space debate are available free from New America, including:

Consumer/High-Tech White Space Coalition Fact Sheet: Benefits of White Space
New America Foundation/Free Press Analysis on TV White Space Availability in Sample of U.S. Markets
Wireless Public Safety Data Networks Operating on Unlicensed Spectrum
The Economic Case for Unlicensed Use of the TV White Space

Thanks for your interest.

Michael Calabrese
Director, Wireless Future Program
New America Foundation