Unlicensed Gizmos Could Get TV Space

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The Federal Communications Commission is one step closer to making TV stations share their band of TV channels with Internet-service providers and computer users who operate wireless networks in their homes.

Thursday, the FCC proposed rules for allowing unlicensed products to be operated in unused channels across the country. That would mean in markets where broadcasters are operating on, say, channels 5 and 8, users of FCC-approved devices would use channels 6 and 7 to operate Internet service connections or wireless devices without having to obtain a license.

The unlicensed operations would be prohibited from creating interference to TV channels. Despite that assurance, broadcasters are worried unforeseen interference could arise anyway.

"We will work with the FCC to ensure that this proposal can be accommodated while preserving interference-free over-the-air television," said NAB President Eddie Fritts.

FCC Chairman Michael Powell assured the industry that the agency will vigilantly guard against interference. "There are potential risks to broadcasters and we have to be careful," he said at the FCC's May meeting, where he and fellow commissioners voted Thursday to seek public comment on the idea.

Despite supporting the proposal, commissioners Kevin Martin and Jonathan Adelstein worried that moving too quickly could complicate the transition to digital TV.