House Democrats Lose Bid to Protect Unlicensed Spectrum

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TVB | House Democrats Lose Bid to Protect Unlicensed Spectrum
WASHINGTON: House Democrats today failed to wrestle a white-space set-aside into a GOP bill authorizing TV spectrum incentive auctions. Protection of white spaces was a sticking point for the minority on the House Commerce technology subcommittee, which passed the Jumpstarting Opportunity with Broadband Spectrum Act of 2011. White spaces comprise spectrum in the broadcast band not occupied by TV channels. Federal regulators and commercial players are still setting up the infrastructure to use white spaces for unlicensed devices.

“Closing spectrum bands to future innovation is foolhardy,” Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) repeated twice during today’s subcommittee hearing. She said unlicensed spectrum generates between $16 billion and $37 billion a year for the U.S. economy.

“I’m actually a fan of unlicensed spectrum usage,” said Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.), who introduced the JOBS bill Tuesday. Walden said that if legislators were going to use auction proceeds to relocate broadcasters, they shouldn’t give spectrum to other users for free. He said the Democrat’s spectrum bill would reduce potential auction proceeds by $1 billion, and emphasized the GOP position that 675 MHz of spectrum under the 6 GHz band is now available for unlicensed use.
 
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