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Kerry, Snowe Request FCC Use TV Airwaves for Broadband

managed-broadband1Sen. John Kerry, chairman of the Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet, and Olympia Snowe, senior member of the Commerce Committee wrote a letter to the Federal Communication Commission requesting it opens unused TV airwaves as a platform for low-cost broadband for those who remain unable to access the Internet.

“While broadband is an indispensable resource to millions of Americans and businesses across the country, nearly 14 million Americans are still unable to use it due to lack of access,” Snowe said. “The ‘white spaces’ spectrum provides an opportunity to reach these Americans and further bridge the ‘digital divide’ that unfortunately continues to exist today.”

The letter was addressed to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. The letter is one part of Kerry and Snowe’s campaign to unleash the expansion of broadband. In 2007, the senators released the Wireless Innovation Act, a bill that would require the FCC to write rules governing the unlicensed use of white spaces for the purposes of providing greater access to high speed internet.

It is their hope this request will enable the nation’s full innovation potential and bridge the nation’s “digital divide.” In the letter, the senators wrote: “The agency must pursue a harmonized spectrum strategy of both licensed and unlicensed spectrum deployment efforts that will allow manufacturers and consumers to construct multiple paths to the Internet and utilize new devices for communications. Completion of the ‘white spaces’ proceeding can help build momentum in that direction.”

They also mentioned the use of these white spaces could help direct smartphone traffic:

“A recent Cisco Visual Network Index report indicated approximately 60 percent of mobile data use is done inside and at least 23 percent of smartphone traffic could be offloaded onto fixed wireline networks by 2014.”

The lawmakers also noted their understanding of the FCC’s delay in action as a tedious process to make sure all signals would interconnect smoothly. However, they hope movement toward the use of TV white space will come within “the third quarter of 2010.”

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