And now the moment we've all been waiting for WHITE SPACES

O.K., Julie opens with a basic summary that technology now lets us do this. Rules recommended are a conservative first step. Appropriate safeguards for interference protection. Now, Hugh Van Tuyl will present the Order. Take it Hugh!

Hugh: Did we mention how safe and conservative this is? Allow both fixed and portable to operate unlicensed. Fixed would be used with geolocation and a database, personal portable would be lower power and we expect it for wifi and personal portable devices. Could be under control of a fixed device, or could access database in other ways. Fixed and mobile will have sensing. Will require registration of high power fixed so you can find the operators. If you are using wireless mics for events, you can enter them in the database so devices won’t operate there. (I wonder if this includes the unauthorized users).

Also reject my petition for recon that objected to reopening unlicensed v. licensed question (kinda moot, dontcha think — but glad they are thorough).

Finally, will do notice of inquiry for higher power in rural area.

Copps: We can convert scarcity into abundance. American consumers will win here. Our job to make sure public gets greatest return on public spectrum. Technology doesn’t stand still, we must promote innovation while protecting existing users, and generally not be morons about this. Do the promises of benefits appear too good to be true? Sure, but so has every other major wireless innovation. The engineering analysis dove my decisionmaking. While process not perfect, was extremely open and fair and thorough. Results of testing shows there is merit in initial positions of both sides. Sensing is not yet adequate, despite the promises of white spaces proponents. So we have a path to sensing, but require a different technology first. We have a rigorous certification process. We require them to shut down if they interfere. We have the database to act as a “kill switch” is needed. Finally, we have a certification process that will allow broadcasters and others to monitor and challenge certification.

Some have argued for licensed. Licensed is good, but we need balance. We just auctioned off squindoodles of exclusively licensed spectrum. Lets show unlicensed some love. We will also do the NOI for higher power in rural areas. And many thanks to Julie and the OET engineers for doing a bang up job and putting up with waaaayyyy too much crap.

Adelstein: Well, it’s been a long fight, and glad to see so many of you spectrum gladiators here. This goes beyond a third pipe, and is a third channel to consumers. Will be the tonic we need to boost our broadband. This should be wifi on amphetamines, not just steroids. Unlicensed is best fit for white spaces, given low barriers to entry and interference mitigation. Because broadcasters are so important, we need to make sure they are protected.

Not happy about how this got rushed through. Did I mention recently that I think Martin has jerked us off on procedure too often? Also, we will take the interference protections seriously, and protect wireless microphones.

Glad to have NOI. Wish we could have had FNPRM on more rural power rather than NOI, but so it goes. Gotta get the ball rolling.

Tate: The one bright spot in our current economic woes is our innovative spirit. This will push innovation and benefit everyone. I also hope this item brings broadband to rural areas. Listened to the concerns of everyone, tried to reach a reasonable position. Order not perfect, would have preferred to keep licensed option open and have more detailed complaint process. Need to take our interference protection seriously. Lots of thanks to OET for their amazing work. Certification will ensure that we have not only proof of process, but proof of practice. We had a really open testing process, Go OET! Will create a database of specific channels totally unavailable for unlicensed operation.

But wish we had a better complaint process for interference. Also wish we had more clear responsibilities for manufacturers, and generally wish we’d done more to slap the manufacturers around. But hey, we can do that next time.

Also wish we’d issued rules and included a licensed option. Not happy with making all of broadcast band 2-51 for unlicensed. Dissent from this part of the Order. [Allow me to give an aside here on how absolutely happy I am that Tate was outvoted on this.]

To conclude, still not really sold on this technology, but I’m outvoted so lets go with what we got.

McDowell: This is totally cool, and completely deregulatory. Go us! This will encourage huge innovation. Props to Powell for getting this ball rolling. OET totally rocks. Allow me to offer comfort to those who are worried about interference by pointing out that we have limited personal portable devices and taken appropriate steps. Expect we will look back on this as “quaint,” but now is state of the art.

I will add that this makes any other regulation, like the stupid C Block rules, totally unnecessary. Having an open, unlicensed option will force those offering walled gardens to open. I also think we should have gone with an FNPRM rather than an NOI on increased rural power (and instead of special access). But hey, lets go with what we got. Some form of limited licensing might be a good idea. I’m very, very disappointed in you public interest people and tech people for opposing even discussing the licensed option. [HF: I can soooo live with McDowell’s disappointment, especially as McDowell was the only Commissioner who declined to meet with us in person. I can’t say I’m surprised that he doesn’t get it if he never lets us explain it to him to his face.]

Martin: This Order is damn good and balances everything appropriately. Thanks to OET.

Order adopted.

I can start breathing again.

Stay tuned . . . .
[And God bless Adelstein, Copps and Martin for slamming the door on the licensed option — but especially Adelstein. I know what a priority rural is for him, and this was not an easy choice. Community wireless networks and WISPs have no truer friend on the Commission (meaning no disrespect to either Copps or Martin).]


  1. Yo Harold!!! One historic vote down, one to go!!


  2. I am curious if there is any record of who attended this FCC hearing. I saw the Ars Technica news story of Dell, Google, Intel, and Microsoft submitting a proof of concept prototype to FCC for testing. Any word on who might be rolling products designed for this spectrum first?

    Or, do we ask the DIY gearheads to hack their own packet radios out of obsolete analog TV broadcast equipment? (Seems like this should be happening anyway.)

  3. Comments must be approved before being published. Now that is the way to run a blog discussion. Just like the FCC jumping into the internet business. This is all a big joke except the empor is naked and everyone knows it. Socialist control over the net is three days away. Watch for it.

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