The crowded spectrum battle

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Television broadcasters may look back fondly on the days when they were trying to slow the incursion of unlicensed devices into the spectrum holes between stations – the push for devices was reaching a fever pitch at the same time broadcasters were in the final stages of the digital transition. Now the prospect of channel repacking may cause more damage to TV than the devices might have, all while making the devices an endangered species.


According to Hillicon Valley, white spaces are still a part of the negotiations on spectrum policy that is going on among members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee in general and the Communications Subcommittee in particular.

The Democrat’s Ranking Member on the Subcommittee is Anna Eshoo (D-CA), who represents a district that is home to many of the companies most keen on using unlicensed spectrum.

Democrats see white spaces as a hotbed of innovation and enterprise, and would also allow municipalities to offer their own WiFi and other services – a controversial proposal because they would be in competition with private companies.

Republicans are not against the idea, but want it limited, seeing it as a giveaway to large tech companies when the spectrum could be auctioned off and apply to deficit reduction.

Subcommittee chair Greg Walden (R-OR) has said that there will definitely be white space available in the final legislation – the debate centers on just how much will be available.

RBR-TVBR observation: Like all other aspects of the spectrum debate, the likely result is that there will be more than enough room for unlicensed devices in areas where few people live and not nearly enough where they do. Isn’t it time to slow down, focus on the true problem areas, and look at alternatives to the digital one-to-one delivery model that promises to be the true spectrum hog? And how about requiring the wireless companies to build out what they have before letting them into other parts of the spectrum?