FCC votes unanimously to allow unlicensed use of white spaces

by office of Rep. Jay Inslee

Today, U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) expressed his support for the unanimous vote of the Federal Communications Commission to approve the unlicensed use of vacant gaps in television spectrum, or white spaces, for wireless broadband technologies. Extensive tests on laboratory prototype devices over the last eighteen months proved that white space devices have the strong potential to successfully and safely expand broadband internet access in rural and underserved areas.

"I applaud the FCC for their decision today to approve the Order that will let white space technologies be developed," said Inslee, a leading white spaces advocate in Congress. "By unleashing the talents of America s top minds in telecommunications engineering, this vote will usher in a new era of innovation and will make possible revolutionary technologies we can t even dream of today."

Inslee, a member of the Telecommunications and Internet subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, introduced H.R. 1597, the Wireless Innovation Act of 2007, a bill that would have put in place a regulatory framework for white space technologies. Inslee, along with fellow U.S. Reps. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Nathan Deal (R-Ga.), Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and Anna Eshoo (D-Cali.) sent a letter to FCC Chairman Kevin Martin on October 27, 2008, urging that the Commission vote on white spaces today as scheduled.

Today s important and historic decision will spur the innovation necessary to allow millions of rural families throughout American new access to reliable internet broadband, said Inslee. This is the important first step in bridging the digital divide in this country between the digital haves and have-nots. This technology is safe, it is cutting-edge, and it is time for it to be developed and deployed.

And in these tough economic times, it is critical that the government do what it can to encourage economic growth and job creation. The approval of white spaces devices will open up an entirely new industry sector and create jobs in the innovation industries.

In recent days, opponents of white space technologies had attempted to delay or block the vote by raising unsubstantiated allegations that white space devices would disrupt digital television (DTV) signals and transmissions from wireless microphones in theater performances. However, the most recent report from the FCC Office of Engineering and Technology declared that white space technology had passed the burden of proof test and could successfully avoid interfering with current users of television airwaves.

Engineers at the FCC have exhaustively tested the prototype devices and have concluded that white spaces devices can operate without interfering with existing spectrum users like DTV broadcasts and wireless microphones, said Inslee. I thank Chairman Martin and the rest of the Commission for recognizing the urgency of the situation and for scheduling and taking this vote without delay.

For more information on the FCC vote, please visit the FCC website at http://www.fcc.gov/

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