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Commission acknowledges importance of maintaining interference-free TV transmission

Last week’s Notice of Proposed Rule Making that would allow unlicensed wireless devices to use vacant spectrum currently reserved for TV transmission will require the FCC to balance competing interests while maintaining the integrity of over-the-air broadcast as it proceeds.

Comments from the members of the commission reflected their understanding of the tightrope they traverse by issuing the Notice. Among their comments are:

Chairman Michael Powell:

“The Commission takes a hard look at the use of unlicensed devices operating on unused broadcast television spectrum in conjunction with smart radio technology. This technology has the potential to provide greater service to the American public. It promises to dramatically increase the availability and quality of wireless Internet connections – the equivalent of doubling the number of lanes on a congested highway.”

Commissioner Michael Copps:

“As we proceed, we must of course find ways to balance the need to provide spectrum resources for innovators, entrepreneurs and new technologies with the equally important need to avoid harmful interference to incumbent users and consumers. I believe that this NPRM asks the right questions and that it is a balanced — and actually I think a rather conservative — approach, and I hope that broadcasters and unlicensed entrepreneurs alike will work with us to craft appropriate protections as we move ahead to realize the potential benefits of unlicensed use of this part of the spectrum … .

“Given the interference concerns these actions create, we must be able and ready to conduct independent harmful interference tests and to act decisively when harmful interference has occurred.”

Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein:

“The American people care a lot about the quality of their television reception. Television broadcasts are viewed by people as perhaps the most sacred use of public spectrum. Their TV is not to be trifled with. We will hear an earful from consumers if this is not done right.

“Finally, it is worrisome that we are undertaking this proceeding right in the middle of our important digital television transition. I have lingering concerns about the wisdom of allowing unlicensed operations in the vacant television bands before the DTV transition is complete, and I encourage commenters to fully address this timing issue and any problems that it creates.”

Commissioner Kevin Martin:

“While I am pleased that this proceeding has the potential to encourage new and innovative unlicensed services, I remain concerned about the proceeding’s impact on the broadcasters and their transition to digital television.”

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