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Microsoft Appeals to Members of U.S. House and Senate to Support FCC Vote on 'White Space'

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Microsoft Appeals to Members of U.S. House and Senate to Support FCC Vote on 'White Space'
October 30, 2008
By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor

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On November 4, 2008, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC (News - Alert)) is scheduled to vote on rules that would allow unused spectrum to be safely deployed for broadband. This unused spectrum, or white space, presents considerable opportunity for all Americans as well as major companies seeking to develop technologies for this space.


Microsoft (News - Alert) Chief Research and Strategy Officer Craig Mundie sent a letter to members of the House of Representatives and United States Senate to explain the benefits of white space technology. This letter also set out to request that these groups support the FCC as they establish guidelines for the technology.

Mundie highlighted that supporting the FCC in allowing the vacant channels in the television broadcast band to be made available for unlicensed use. Mundie argues that this will result in wireless broadband opportunities that will exceed that which have been seen with WiFi (News - Alert), translating into new broadband points for consumers, innovation that remains American, and the benefits of economic growth.  

Unlicensed use of the spectrum will enable the creation of more powerful wireless broadband devices that will enable offerings such as wireless broadband service in rural areas delivered more effectively; self-forming mesh networks capable of routing traffic at speeds of 20 megabits per second and above within the mesh; and the wireless distribution of content throughout the home and among devices.

While it is true that Microsoft has significant investment in this space and stands to gain considerable market advantage in the event of a successful vote and the establishment of guidelines, the reality is that all white space advocates have taken great care in making a variety of technical proposals that will protect existing users against interference.

Such proposals include the requirement that low power spectrum sensing-only devices should be approved; higher-power geo-location devices should provide belts-and-suspenders protection; the FCC will certify only safe devices; white space devices will not affect the digital television transition; and that there are strong business interests in preserving over-the-air television.

Mundie argues that the FCC has taken ample time and a strict approach to developing guidelines for this available white space. He also added that in light of the diligence with which the FCC has approached this proceeding, there is no reason to further delay a decision, as has been requested by the National Association of Broadcasters.

Perhaps one of Mundie’s most powerful points is the interest shown by other countries in developing white spaces technology. He is quick to point out that if this spectrum is not made available in the U.S., the country will not receive the anticipated benefits. To know for sure how this pans out, this is one more vote to watch for on the 4th. 
 

Don’t forget to check out TMCnet’s White Paper Library, which provides a selection of in-depth information on relevant topics affecting the IP Communications industry. The library offers white papers, case studies and other documents which are free to registered users.


Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for eastbiz.com. To read more of Susan's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Mae Kowalke

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