Sprint, T-Mobile weigh in on white spaces debate

January 13, 2008

In a joint letter to the FCC, mobile phone operators Sprint and T-Mobile have sided against tech giants including Microsoft, Philips and Google regarding unlicensed access to white spaces spectrum. Sprint and T-Mobile, both owners of significant swaths of licensed spectrum, argue that only licensed use of white spaces should be permitted. Ideally, they say, it should also be used for more affordable data transfer, or backhaul, required for mobile networks such as those they operate. They point out that the need for such backhaul spectrum space will increase as wireless carriers seek to expand their 3G and 4G networks in the coming years.

While their reasons differ qualitatively, this places the two cellular companies on the same side of the debate as the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), which argues that unlicensed devices could interfere with digital television broadcasts.

In their letter, Sprint and T-Mobile make similar arguments, saying that the unlicensed use of mobile devices on the spectrum could cause "harmful interference to important incumbent operations."

For more information, visit www.fcc.gov.

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