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Lawmaker Wants More Spectrum For Wireless Broadband

in Wireless by

WASHINGTON, December 4, 2009 - The United States must act soon to meet the increasing demand for more spectrum, a key lawmaker said on Friday.

"Our nation is on the verge of a wireless spectrum shortage," said Sen. John Ensign, R-N.V. "As evidenced by the tremendous success of smart phones, demand for wireless broadband devices and services is exploding. If the United States does not act soon to meet the increasing demand for more spectrum, we risk falling behind other nations in developing new technologies."

Ensign is the ranking member of the Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet, which has jurisdiction over telecommunications issues.

The Federal Communications Commission said recently it will move ahead to implement an order from last year that would establish rules to allow new wireless devices to operate in unused broadcast television spectrum.

“The rules will allow for the use of unlicensed TV band devices in the unused spectrum to provide broadband data and other services for consumers and businesses,” according to a public notice (DOC) dated November 25. The FCC has invited proposals from entities that would like to be “Designated TV Band Device Database Managers.”

In order to ensure that the new unlicensed wireless devices only operate on spectrum that is currently not being used by licensed services, the FCC is requiring users to provide information that will be put into a database that “will tell a TV band device which TV channels are vacant and can be used at its location.”

On Thursday FCC Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker focused on the need to improve the allocation of spectrum for future broadband expansion during the Phoenix Center’s Annual Telecom Symposium.

“The United States needs a comprehensive approach that expands upon proven flexible, market-oriented policies that facilitate spectrum access, wireless innovation and competition,” said Baker.

Ensign said he commended the “Commissioners for taking this first step toward allocating more spectrum for wireless broadband. This is a vitally important conversation that our nation must have now if we are to stay at the cutting edge of innovation. I also applaud the FCC for recognizing the important public interest value of free over-the-air broadcast television. I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress, the FCC, the NTIA, and all public and private spectrum stakeholders to allocate more spectrum for wireless broadband.”

Winter covered technology policy issues for five-and-a-half years as a reporter for the National Journal Group. She has worked for USA Today, the Washington Times, the Magazine Group, the State Department’s International Visitor’s Program, and the Council on Hemispheric Affairs. She also taught English at a university in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

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