The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) is urging federal regulators and legislators not to be fooled by “empty promises” this week, after a group of technology executives issued a letter of support for Microsoft’s plan to use TV white spaces for broadband.
“Using even the most wildly optimistic TVWS database numbers, TVWS advocates just need to connect 33,999,132 more devices to bring broadband internet to 34 million Americans without access,” NAB EVP of Communications Dennis Wharton says in a scathing statement released Wednesday. “Despite sitting on the sidelines for years during the TVWS experiment, Microsoft now demands that the FCC oust television broadcasters and their viewers to pave the way for free spectrum for TVWS advocates. This would jeopardize local broadcast news, programming, and lifeline emergency information for millions of Americans. The FCC and Members of Congress should not be fooled by Microsoft’s empty promises.”
Wharton’s comments come in response to a letter a group of tech executives sent to the FCC earlier in the week expressing support for Microsoft’s proposal.
In mid-July, Microsoft unveiled an ambitious plan to close the rural broadband gap in the next five years. The company’s strategy calls for both public and private investments to deploy new technologies in unused TV white space in the 600 MHz band. NAB immediately voiced its opposition to the project, calling it an arrogant attempt by Microsoft to secure “free, unlicensed spectrum” after that company failed to bid in the FCC’s recent 600 MHz incentive auction.
But on Monday, 17 tech executives at the head of the 90,000-strong Voices for Innovation group wrote a letter to the FCC “strongly” urging the Commission to designate three TV white space channels in each market to carry “innovative broadband technology.”
“This emerging technology has the capability to bring affordable, reliable, high-speed internet to 34 million Americans who currently lack access,” the executives write. “By taking this action, the FCC will spur private sector investment that will help connect all Americans to the internet, especially those living in rural and underserved communities.”
It is unclear how the FCC views Microsoft’s proposal. However, Chairman Ajit Pai has made closing the broadband gap one of his top priorities at the Commission.
The matter was not discussed at the Commission’s July or August meetings, and the FCC has not yet laid out the agenda for its upcoming meeting in September.
Filed Under: Industry regulations