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Will the FCC Help Vermonters Access Broadband?


Published October 27, 2008 at 3:56 p.m.

Here's the deal:

The FCC is deciding whether to open up so-called "TV whitespace" — the spaces between channels in the broadcast spectrum — foropen, unlicensed use. They're issuing the decision on November 4, but the public comment period ends TODAY.

Technology companies such as Google and Microsoft support this action, as does Vermont's Telecommunications Authority, because rural communities might be able to use "white space" to get broadband.

Who opposes this move? The National Association of Broadcasters, among others. Stowe resident and telecom expert Tom Evslin summarizes the issue on his blog, Fractals of Change:

It's important to remember that, although this unused a spectrum isreferred to as "TV white space", none of it has been paid for by anybroadcaster or will be used for any broadcast purpose after the digitalcutover this February. It is also extremely unlikely that any more overthe air TV stations will pop up and want to occupy this space; and,even if that did, happen, the current proposal would make room for themsince it requires that all equipment used in this space avoid broadcastsignal – even if the broadcast signal shows up after the equipment isin use.

So why are the broadcasters so concerned? Well now, let'ssuppose that much of this spectrum was used to deliver low cost, highspeed Internet access. Suppose that people used this Internet access toobtain their entertainment on the Internet rather than from saidbroadcasters. Now wouldn't that be a fine kettle of fish?

Here's a link to an online petition supporting the unlicensed use of white space.

Tom Evslin is married to Mary Evslin, chair of Vermont's Telecommunication Authority. They're interesting folks. Read more about them here.