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The Public Interest Spectrum Coalition (PISC) said Wed. that Congress should consider a comprehensive spectrum policy that recognizes the importance of the "white spaces" created by the gaps between digital TV channels, and not focus solely on commercial spectrum that can be auctioned.
In written testimony to the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, Harold Feld, legal director for Public Knowledge stressed the benefits that can be obtained from using unlicensed "white space" spectrum: "Using unlicensed spectrum to increase access to spectrum for new entrants to provide more competition among commercial license holders will allow more ubiquitous access through a deregulatory, free market approach and exponentially grow capacity to match exponential growth in mobile data demand." Feld testified on behalf of the coalition.
The written testimony is here.
His oral statement is here.
He noted that both Republican and Democratic members of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) have supported white spaces as an innovative, deregulatory alternative to traditional commercial spectrum distributed by auction.
While the auctions raise money for the U.S. Treasury, Feld said, "Congress must avoid viewing spectrum policy strictly through the lens of a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) score." He added that, "if Congress passes legislation that forces the FCC to only focus on raising revenue for the federal government, the spectrum 'crisis' the wireless industry is encountering today will become a spectrum Armageddon resulting in higher costs, stifled innovation, and reduced global competitiveness."
Feld noted: "The short history of unlicensed spectrum has demonstrated that even spectrum bands that were formerly considered “junk bands” could yield tens of billions of dollars in economic gains and activity. Allowing for an additional allocation of national unlicensed spectrum under the 1 GHz band, with its superior propagation characteristics of penetration and long distance, would allow for the creation of gigabit-capacity wireless LANs in schools, offices, high-density residential areas and mesh networks capable of several miles of coverage at a fraction of the cost of current Wi-Fi technology. While such gains will not show up in a CBO score, they will result in increased revenues for the federal government through investment, job creation, and economic productivity on an annual basis."
"If too great a focus is placed on maximizing short term revenues, we will essentially run the risk of sacrificing tens of billions in annual economic activity in exchange for a single infusion of billions in immediate revenue," Feld said, adding that if Congress felt it needed to pass spectrum legislation, such a bill should give the FCC flexibility to structure an auction to accommodate white spaces.