McDowell Calls For Widespread Use of White Spaces


FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell Thursday called for "widespread, unlicensed use" of the so-called white spaces between vacant TV channels, but he said broadcasters must be protected from interference.

Momentum is growing for opening up spectrum between TV channels--called white spaces-- for next-generation wireless devices.
On March 14, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin told lawmakers at a House Telecommunications & Internet Subcommittee oversight hearing that he thought the FCC should not wait until after the DTV transition to open up the TV band for wireless devices.
The FCC is testing such devices for possible interference to TV stations, and Martin said the first one is currently being tested at the FCC labs.
The FCC has already said it would open the TV band to to so-called smart devices that seek out available bandwidth. It has not said whether those devices would be licensed or unlicensed, but has expressed

its clear preference for the latter

Broadcasters are concerned about the possible threat to the DTV transition a flood of unlicensed devices might cause and remains unconvinced the FCC can control them. ().
McDowell, who was speaking at a Catholic University School of Law Symposium in Washington, did say that it was important for the FCC to ensure that the new equipment "does not cause harmful interference to the current operators in the white spaces," and even gave broadcasters a new term they could use. Suggesting the issue was not black and white, McDowell said: "[M]aybe we should start calling them 'gray spaces.' "
McDowell made some cable executives day during the speech by arguing that some criticisms of the pace of the U.S.broadband rollout are off the mark, a point National Cable & Telecommunicatoins Association President Kyle McSlarrow made at least twice this past week. McDowell also put in a plug for extending the FCC's December video franchise relief order to incumbents, something McSlarrow has also been pushing for.