Reaction Mostly Positive To White Spaces Decision

Kerry, Snowe, others praise move
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Reaction was
swift Thursday to the news the FCC had taken a big step toward opening
up the TV band to wireless broadband and other advanced services.

The FCC
voted 5-0 on rules for that move, and staffers said those guidelines
could be a model for looking at opening up other bands to more efficient
use, which it plans to do.

Broadcasters, who have been concerned that the move could mean interference to its beautiful new DTV and HD signals, were noncommittal,"
NAB's overriding goal in this proceeding has been to ensure
America's continued interference-free access to high quality news,
entertainment and sports provided by free and local television
stations," said National Association of Broadcasters spokesman
Dennis Wharton. "We look forward to reviewing the details of today's
ruling."

"As with
most highly technical decisions, 'the devil is in the details,'" said
David Donovan, president of the Association for Maximum Service
Television, broadcasters spectrum lobby. "Those details
must be explored fully."

The Media
Access Project had no such reservations. "Today is a good day for
innovators, and a bad one for fear mongerers," said MAP Associate
Director Matt Wood. "Chairman Genachowski and the Commission
stood up to pressure from the broadcast lobby and rejected its
hyperbolic warnings that new smart radio technologies won't protect
against interference."

In approving
the item, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said that interference issues
have "bedeviled" the proceeding, but that "enough was enough" and that
it was time to move forward.

Free Press
agreed that it was time to get on with it. "Today's decision was a
positive -- albeit long overdue -- step forward on white spaces,"
said Policy
Counsel Chris Riley. "The Commission's order appears to leave plenty of
room for devices to meaningfully and efficiently use spectrum, in both
rural and urban areas. It preserves the real possibility that unlicensed
use of this spectrum will lead to substantial
consumer benefits, investment and economic growth through technological
innovation."

The Wireless
Innovation Alliance (Google, Dell and others), gave the decision a
shout-out as well. "The Commission has advanced spectrum policy and
smart radios and this decision will form the foundation
for private investment and improve American competitiveness," the group
said in a statement. "And this is just the beginning. We hope that the
White Spaces Order is the first step in continuing and meaningful
spectrum reform that makes markets work more dynamically
and efficiently, enabled by a public policy that accommodates new
technologies and approaches rather than ignores them."

Senators John Kerry (D-Mass
.) and Olympia Snowe
(R-Me.), chair and ranking member, respectively, of the Senate
Communications Subcommittee, praised the move, which was not surprising
since they have been pushing for it.
Kerry introduced a white spaces bill back in 2007.

"Releasing
unused spectrum is a sure-fire way to promote innovation and provide
low-cost internet to folks in Western Massachusetts and across the
country," said Kerry in a joint statement. "While
broadband is an indispensible resource to millions of Americans and
businesses across the country," added Snowe, "nearly 14 million citizens
are still unable to use it due to lack of access," said Sen. Snowe. 
"The ‘white spaces' spectrum provides an opportunity
to reach these Americans and further bridge the ‘digital divide' that
unfortunately continues to exist today."

The FCC
decision set aside two channels for wireless microphones in each market
that cannot be used by the unlicensed devices, plus there will be
additional channels in most markets, the FCC said.
That seemed to be sufficient assurance for one major microphone
manufacturer.

"It's clear that the FCC carefully considered the needs of wireless microphone users while crafting this Order," said Sandy LaMantia, President of Shure Inc. "The reserved
channels will provide a safe harbor in which musicians, small theaters,
houses of worship, and businesses can operate their wireless microphone
systems without interference from new TV
Band Devices."

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