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Senators urge Genachowski to conclude TV white spaces proceeding by Q3 2010

Two powerful senators June 14 asked FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski to complete rules opening up unoccupied TV channels to unlicensed devices by the third quarter of the year.

The pair, Senator John Kerry, D-MA, chairman of the Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet, and Olympia Snowe, R-ME, senior member of the Commerce Committee, sent a letter to Genachowski asking the chairman “to move expeditiously to conclude the TV white spaces proceeding.”

“Almost two years have passed since the commission issued a final order in its white spaces proceeding, and it has been six years since the FCC began the proceeding in May of 2004,” the letter said. “Completing all outstanding white space issues quickly and properly will ensure the promise and potential that has been demonstrated in the past becomes fully realized so consumers and the marketplace can once again benefit.”

The letter encouraged the chairman to “move expeditiously” to bring its white spaces proceeding to a finish “as recommended in the National Broadband Plan.”

In the letter, the senators reminded Genachowski of the innovation resulting from authorization of unlicensed spread spectrum, including WiFi, Bluetooth and other devices. TV white spaces “remain a viable option for unlicensed use below 1GHz and jump-starting a period of innovation that could equal or surpass what we have seen with WiFi,” it added.

Noting the propagation characteristics of the spectrum allocated for TV channels, the pair told the chairman unlicensed broadband devices operating in TV white spaces “will be able to cover a far wider service area in rural areas than the range in which unlicensed devices operate today,” which potentially will “narrow the ‘digital divide.’”

The senators also said use of white space spectrum will allow consumer data traffic to be offloaded from cell sites via technologies, such as femtocells.