NAB, Reps. Inslee and Deal Look to Fill White Spaces

NAB’s Rehr Writes Telecommunications Industry Association’s Seiffert; Inslee and Deal Write Other Lawmakers

The National Association of Broadcasters and a pair of congressmen are filling the so-called white spaces with ink in a battle over the use of broadcast digital-TV spectrum.

NAB president David Rehr sent a letter to Grant Seiffert, president of the Telecommunications Industry Association, asking him to join with the NAB in opposing allowing unlicensed devices in so-called white spaces (the NAB calls them "interference zones"), saying that the two associations share an interest in preventing unlicensed mobile-wireless devices like personal digital assistants and laptops from being able to share the spectrum band housing DTV broadcasters because it would set a precedent.

"The White Spaces Coalition is seeking a fundamental change in the way spectrum is managed," Rehr wrote. "This precedent will not be limited to the television band. From your perspective, there is a fundamental issue of whether the government can force a licensed service to share frequencies with potentially millions of unlicensed devices. If successful, the proponents of white spaces will establish a precedent stating that any existing service or technology may be forced to share spectrum with unlicensed transmitting devices."

Elsewhere on the letter-writing front, Reps. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) and Nathan Deal (R-Ga.) have written their colleagues asking them not to be swayed by broadcaster arguments against allowing unlicensed mobile wireless devices like PDAs and laptops to share the spectrum band housing DTV broadcasters.

"This week, you may hear from interest groups who claim that the white-space technologies will cause interference with broadcast television. Such conclusions are premature and are based on preconceived fears," the legislators said.

Broadcasters have been blanketing Capitol Hill and the Federal Communications Commission, arguing that their fears are based on FCC tests showing interference to DTV broadcasts.

Inslee’s and Deal's support of allowing the devices is no surprise: They are co-sponsors of a bill that would do just that.