Microsoft and Google's push to free up unused airwaves for wireless Web access won the support of Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Kevin Martin after engineers said steps can be taken to prevent digital TV signal disruption.
Microsoft and Google’s push to free up unused airwaves for wireless Web access won the support of Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Kevin Martin after engineers said steps can be taken to prevent digital TV signal disruption.
Martin said Wednesday he wants to let unlicensed devices use vacant channels if they include anti-interference technology. The FCC will vote Nov. 4 on the plan, he said at a news conference.
The technology, built into mobile Web devices, worked during laboratory and field tests, the FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology said Wednesday in a report.
Microsoft and Google are part of a group that wants the FCC to allow mobile devices to use the airwaves after broadcasters convert to digital signals in February. The group, which includes Dell, Hewlett-Packard and consumer advocates, first had to convince the agency that the devices wouldn’t harm TV reception.
Most Read Business Stories
- REI picks new satellite office ‘surrounded by trail networks’
- Judge upholds Seattle eviction regulations, rebuffing landlords' lawsuit
- Fry's Electronics executive accused of embezzling $65 million
- Funky electronics chain Fry's is no more
- Alaska Airlines ordered to pay $3.2M to family of woman who died after escalator fall
Martin’s decision to move ahead with the proposal “should be greatly encouraging for American consumers,” Google lobbyist Richard Whitt said Wednesday on the company’s policy blog. The vacant airwaves, known as white spaces, could transform the way people connect to the Internet, he said.
Broadcasters CBS and Walt Disney Co.’s ABC oppose the plan, saying the wireless Web gadgets may freeze digital TV screens of consumers who rely on over-the-air signals. Sports leagues and Broadway theaters also want the devices banned, saying they may interfere with wireless microphones using the same frequencies.
Martin’s proposal will “eviscerate over-the-air digital television viewing throughout large segments of the United States,” David Donovan, president of the trade group Association for Maximum Service Television, said Wednesday in an e-mailed statement. The plan may hurt residents of apartments and town houses the most, he said.
Martin also wants to overhaul the $7 billion Universal Service telephone-subsidy program and rules that govern the fees phone companies charge for connecting other carriers’ calls. The FCC plans to vote on those proposals at its Nov. 4 meeting.
Both programs must be modernized to reflect the industry’s shift from traditional phone service using copper wires to Internet-based calls, Martin said. The Universal Service Fund also should cover deployment of high-speed Internet service in rural and underserved areas, he said.