ISP organization tries to inject sanity into white space debate


WISPA – the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association – is suggesting that a compromise it calls a “licensed-lite” solution to the television white space controversy – would open up holes for wireless internet providers without endangering free over-the-air television service. Saying their proposal is congruent with comments from broadcast advocate Association for Maximum Service Television, it says its plan “would promote broadband deployment and operations in rural and underserved communities, facilitate interference-free operations and provide interference protection to incumbents.”

WISPA members are already serving broadband to some 2M rural subscribers in unlicensed portions of the spectrum. And even in this relatively small area, it is already running into interference problems from within its own membership.

“In fact, operations in the unlicensed bands have proliferated to the point where congestion and ‘noise’ have created a ‘tragedy of the commons’ that prevent WISPs from continuing to serve existing customers with reliable signals,” wrote the organization. “WISPs know firsthand the means and methods for mitigating and avoiding interference, but those solutions are temporary, costly and ultimately too little, too late to avoid disrupting service to the public.”

WISPA’s solution involves the following for those who would enter the white space arena: Get a non-exclusive national license; register base stations for the provision of local fixed service (which would be checked and allowed only if they would not interfere with incumbent services); the provider would have a 180-day clock to commence service or lose the base; with interference safety precautions in place, a 20 watt transmission ceiling should be possible – which would be far preferable to the 4 watt ceiling in many instances under consideration under the plan stated by FCC Chairman Kevin Martin.

“WISPA believes that this “common ground” approach will allow WISPs, television broadcasters, network interconnection providers, wireless microphone devices, other incumbent licensees and users of low-power unlicensed devices to share the TV White Space spectrum on a non-interfering basis.”

RBR/TVBR observation: Anything has to be better than the wild wild West proposal currently on the table. But if the FCC has its heart set on chaos…