Full court defense against white space invaders


The pushback against a possible 11/4/08 vote by FCC commissioners on a plan to allow unlicensed devices to begin roosting in the television spectrum band is in full swing. Eight US representatives, who have sponsored legislation to maintain an interference-free television band, have written in to the commissioners, requesting that they slam on the brakes and open the matter for expert testimony. And that’s just for starters.

The House members have introduced H.R. 1320, the "Interference Protection for Existing Television Band Devices Act." They wrote, as an independent expert regulatory body, the Commission has a responsibility to conduct its deliberations fairly and openly. The 400-page engineering report released in mid-October reviews months of complex testing, evaluates the data, and arrives at certain critical conclusions. The Commission should give the public experts a formal opportunity to analyze the data and conclusions, point out strengths and weaknesses, and ask probing questions.” They also emphasized that protecting incumbents should be the FCC’s primary consideration. Signing the letter were Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), Shelley Berkley (D-NV), Mark Steven Kirk (R-IL), Jon Porter (R-NV), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), William Lacy Clay (D-MO), Jim Cooper (D-TN) and Robert Brady (D-PA). Another letter expressing similar sentiments went to the FCC from Bobby Rush (D-IL).

Mel Martinez (R-FL), weighed in from the Senate side of the Capitol, writing, "I know that companies and the FCC have been experimenting for some time now on devices that work under controlled conditions, but to date none have succeeded on a consistent basis," Sen. Martinez wrote. "The Commission’s usual practice of seeking public comment prior to adopting a major rule should not be disregarded on an issue of this magnitude."

Another letter came in from four individuals who find themselves in competition with one another on a daily basis but who have discovered common ground on this issue: Peter Chernin, president of News Corp., Robert Iger, CEO of Walt Disney Co., Leslie Moonves, CEO of CBS Corp. and Jeffrey Zucker, CEO of NBC Universal. "It seems to be only prudent and responsible that the current white spaces proposal, and the report, should be put out for comment and peer review,” they wrote, according to the Wall Street Journal. “The FCC has to get this right the first time."

46 state broadcaster associations have also asked for public discussion of the proposals, along with sports organizations and wireless microphone users, which include theater and religious groups.

RBR/TVBR observation: Even members of the wireless broadband community think this is a crazy idea. Next week’s FCC meeting will be interesting, to say the least.