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NAB Voices Its Concerns With Microsoft Spectrum Proposal

The National Association of Broadcasters is firing back at a letter from tech execs who wrote the FCC in support of reserving broadcast band channels, so called "white spaces," for unlicensed device use.

A group of tech company execs banding together as Voices for Innovation Tuesday raised their voices in support of a proposal by Microsoft that the FCC reserve channels in the white spaces of the broadcast TV band for unlicensed devices as a way to promote rural broadband deployment.

NAB is no fan of the plan, and made that clear in its response to the tech exec letter on TV white spaces (TVWS). That letter talked up the use of the unlicensed spectrum to get broadband to 34 million more homes. Broadband deployment is a signature issue for the FCC under new chairman Ajit Pai.

Related: Microsoft Claims Rural White Spaces Plan Could Cost Less Than $12 Billion

“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," said NAB executive VP Dennis Wharton. "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.”

NAB has also argued that if Microsoft had wanted access to broadcast spectrum for broadband, it could have bid in the incentive auction.

John Eggerton
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.