Inslee Plugs White Space Devices at Capitol Hill Hearing

The House Telecommunications and Internet Subcommittee hearing Wednesday was mostly about the analog-to-digital converter box coupon program, but Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) used his opening statement to address the future use of white spaces, the unused channels on the DTV spectrum for which the FCC is still determining rules; broadcasters fear that unlicensed and mobile devices on these frequencies could interfere with DTV signals and unravel the DTV transition.

“Dell, HP and Philips are major retailers of high-definition sets, which would mean if there was going to be interference from white space devices, that they’d be undercutting their own business model, if you will,” said Inslee. “And I thought it was an interesting comment because I think it indicates at least three major players, whose business model would be damaged if there was interference, want to see movement forward to continue testing and continue to develop a white spaces solution, and I hope that will be the direction that we move.”

Earlier in the hearing, Rep. Fred Upton (Mich.), the top Republican on the subcommittee, had called for auctioning and licensing the spectrum, which broadcasters say would allow the FCC more control over interfering RF, should it happen. Inslee opposed that plan, saying it would enable companies to “camp” on spectrum.

“I keep talking to folks who are ready at the gate to start access to these new technologies,” Inslee said.

This week the NAB also touted the opposition of five senators to unlicensed white space devices. Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) and Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) are the latest to weigh in with the broadcasters’ concerns.