CTIA weighs in on white-space spectrum debate

CTIA has now weighed in on the fight over the use of unlicensed white space spectrum, that spectrum that sits between airwaves currently licensed to TV broadcasters. CTIA joins Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile against the notion that the spectrum should be unlicensed. The two operators made a filing with the FCC in January urging the commission to open up the spectrum on a licensed basis, saying white spaces could be used for much-needed backhaul services.

Unlicensed white space spectrum represents a threat to operators that are developing expensive licensed networks to attack the broadband market, for example, the 700 MHz spectrum.

"The way we look at it is there is a model that works, and continues to work," said Paul Garnett, CTIA's assistant vice president for regulatory affairs. "There is some potential there to use [white spaces] in a licensed way to allow incumbents or new entrants to provide new broadband access."

Google, Microsoft, Dell, Philips and others, which are part of the White Space Coalition, have been pushing the notion that the spectrum should be released on an unlicensed basis for broadband services. The FCC, which has outwardly supported the idea of releasing the spectrum on an unlicensed basis, is currently testing devices to make sure they don't interfere with TV signals. If the FCC approves the devices this year, commercial white spaces wireless devices could be available as soon as late 2009.

Meanwhile, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), is fiercely opposed to any signals in the white space spectrum, saying the spectrum should lay fallow to avoid interference with television signals.

To read more about the white space debate:
- take a look at this white space report from The Hill

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