Law in the Internet Society
-- StephanieLim - 22 Oct 2008 just an outline, obviously...would welcome comments and suggestions

Why White Spaces Matter

The term WhiteSpaces refers to the portions of the radio spectrum left deliberately unused to act as a buffer between licensed channels by reducing the chance for interference.

In October 2006, the FCC authorized low-power wireless devices temporary use of the white spaces, as broadcasters abandon the spectrum in the anticipated switch to digital television February 18, 2009. Currently, legislation in under consideration with the FCC to determine whether to allow WhiteSpaces to remain unregulated, or whether to auction and license these portions of the radio spectrum.

Public Interest and Proof of Concept

The debate over White Spaces has taken on three major dimensions, all of which will converge at the hands of the FCC.

Consumer advocacy groups are focusing on the public interest piece of the debate, maintaining that opening up WhiteSpaces could aid in closing the digital divide. Allowing access to white spaces could provide countless under-served populations with access to the Internet at no cost. Ironically, opposition groups like the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) have been appealing to the public for support in maintaining the integrity of the public airwaves--by closing them to public use.

Additionally, opponents have called upon major device manufacturers to provide "proof of concept" that devices operating in white spaces would not interfere with licensed airwaves. Although in October 2008 the FCC decided that the burden of proof had been met, groups like the NAB have jumped on the imperfect results, preying on a combination of fear and the general lack of technical knowledge. Citing risks in emergency response, public safety, privacy, and licensed, commercial uses, the NAB has called for delays until a more robust burden of proof can be met. A major support group, the White Space Coalition, composed of technological corporations, has been working with the FCC to do just this.


Historically, unlicensed (illegal) use of WhiteSpaces--most notably by churches, the performing arts, and pirate radio--has been overlooked by the FCC. If we bear in mind that the primary goal of the FCC is to guard the public interest, we must learn from past regulations to see that auctioning off public property to the highest bidder hardly meets this goal. Currently, flexible use of white spaces is leading to innovations in wireless technology, diversification of users and producers, and improving the dynamic relationship between users and producers.

This isn't a suggestion for historical research but understanding NYCWireless, in the present day might yield some interesting info

-- TomGlaisyer - 26 Oct 2008



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r6 - 04 Nov 2008 - 16:32:42 - StephanieLim
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