NAB's McFadden Slams OTI, Facebook Over 6 GHz Stance

The National Association of Broadcasters is clearly unhappy with the prospect that the FCC will open up the entire 6 GHz band for sharing with unlicensed wireless.

National Association of Broadcasters associate general counsel Patrick McFadden left nothing but scorched earth beneath the Open Technology Institute, Facebook, tech companies in general, conservative groups, and others in a blog post over the hot-button issue of opening up that spectrum, a proposal the FCC is voting on this week.

OTI opposes broadcasters request that the FCC carve out from the sharing proposal the 80 MHz of spectrum they use for electronic newsgathering, which they argue would be subject to potential interference from computers and other devices tapping into that unlicensed spectrum. NAB said that would still leave 1120 MHz of the 6 GHz band open for sharing.

Related: NAB Says FCC Spectrum Plan Could Hurt ENG at Crucial Time

OTI said it can all be shared and incumbent broadcasters and others will be protected from harmful interference. NAB disagrees and McFadden did so in no uncertain terms with no-holds-barred (and some new holds tried out) language.

"Unfortunately, OTI opposed in a knee-jerk fashion NAB’s reasonable, measured proposal," he said. "OTI’s opposition also exposed how little it understands what is actually at stake in the 6 GHz band."

But McFadden was just warming up. He attacked "conservative groups" for the "valentine" they sent their favorite tech companies in the form of support for allowing sharing in the entire band. "Lacking the capacity or expertise to evaluate the technical claims of the letter Facebook ghostwrote for them, they expressed great, unearned confidence regarding the likelihood of interference with licensed services operating in the band and the ease of preventing such interference," he said.

Related: Broadcasters Seek FCC Meeting on 6 GHz

"We take no particular issue with amateur pundits weighing in on policy at least plausibly aligned with their organizations’ missions," he said. "The problem is that there’s a considerable difference between acting like you know what you’re talking about and actually knowing what you’re talking about."

"And when it comes to evaluating the technical concerns about co-existence between unlicensed users and broadcast newsgathering, neither OTI nor the Center for American Spectrum Dilettantes has a clue." Ouch!

Then there was this:

"[I]n a letter fittingly filed on the seventh anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing, OTI suggests that broadcasters rely on bonded cellular technology for newsgathering operations. But cellular networks often fail during critical times, including immediately following the marathon bombing."

An OTI spokesperson declined comment on the McFadden blog. 

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.