Route Around The New Ma Bell: TV Spectrum for Broadband

It didn’t receive too much attention, but with the twin spectres of two-tier pipes and rising prices to access, it should. The New America Foundation, New Press and others are working to create more spectrum by using expiring analog TV spectrum. They’ve found some friends in the Senate– including Ted Stevens.
From CNet:

Wireless Internet service providers would be allowed to operate freely on new chunks of unused TV spectrum, according to two new bills in the U.S. Senate.

A pair of similar measures introduced Friday would give wireless device manufacturers the green light to develop products for unlicensed use on the broadband airwaves’ “white spaces”–that is, empty, unused channels in the broadcast TV bands.

Companies interested in deploying Wi-Fi networks covet the bands of spectrum on which broadcast television currently resides because of its inherent scientific properties. Signals at that frequency travel straighter and farther. Consumer advocates say using the spectrum would enable cheaper and easier set-up–and thus more widespread access for rural and low-income areas…

The New America Foundation, an independent think tank that supports freeing up the white space for wireless deployment, estimates that 40 percent to 80 percent of the TV spectrum lies vacant in rural areas and that major metropolises host a fair share of empty spectrum as well.

That organization joined consumer advocates in applauding the bills’ introduction. “Opening the white spaces for new and innovative technologies is an essential step toward bridging the digital divide, bringing 21st century telecommunications to rural areas and providing affordable access to all Americans,” advocacy groups Consumers Union and Free Press wrote in a letter to the bills’ sponsors.

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