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Martin, Page push white spaces

Stephen Lawson | Nov. 7, 2008
FCC Chairman Kevin Martin and Google's Larry Page promoted white-spaces wireless broadband together at a conference.

Martin said he will circulate in the next few days a proposal for coexistence between satellite radio and networks licensed under a system called WCS (Wireless Communications Services). His intent is to balance service opportunities with concerns about interference, he said in a speech at WCAI.

Such a plan has been a long time coming, according to Paul Sinderbrand, an attorney with Wilkinson Barker Knauer LLP who represents WCAI. WCS licenses were issued in the late 1990s but have not been used significantly, partly because concerns about interference with satellite radio have reduced their usefulness, he said.

WCS would use frequencies between 2305MHz and 2320MHz and between 2345MHz and 2360MHz. Under a temporary authorization, satellite radio providers have been using the band in between to extend their signals to places where satellite signals can't reach, such as tunnels or streets with tall buildings, Sinderbrand said. Partly because of the concerns about interference with those satellite signals, the rules for WCS make it unfeasible to offer mobile services, he said. WCS license holders, such as NextWave Wireless, want to do just that, probably offering mobile WiMax, according to Sinderbrand.

A new set of rules for this band probably would give the satellite companies permanent permission to use the middle band and also make it feasible to offer mobile broadband in the WCS spectrum, Sinderbrand said. If that proposed framework is circulated among the commissioners soon as Martin promised, Sinderbrand believes it could be approved within a matter of weeks. The result could be new nationwide mobile WiMax services. It's unclear how long it would take for those networks to be rolled out, but WiMax is already being offered in South Korea with frequencies very close to these bands, so existing equipment might be available with little modification, he said. 

 

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