Bill Gates, Dolly Parton tussle over use of TV ‘white spaces’

With the Federal Communications Commission set to vote Nov. 4 on whether using empty TV spectrum can be used for unlicensed wireless services that could help deliver broadband internet access to more people, arguments for both sides are getting some serious star power, InformationWeek reports. These so-called "white spaces" sit between broadcast TV channels, and they will become available when broadcast TV stations switch from analog to digital next year. Companies like Hewlett-Packard, Google, and Microsoft want this spectrum to be available for wireless internet services. Broadcasters, telecoms, and wireless microphone companies say that use of white spaces could interfere with nearby spectrum bands. During a conference call Oct. 27, Microsoft said Bill Gates would personally call FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell to lobby for unlicensed white-space use. In a recent interview with the Washington Post, Gates argued that companies would be able to offer innovative wireless services, and he likened the white spaces to Wi-Fi, which operates in unlicensed spectrum bands. FCC Chairman Kevin Martin recently said he would support the use of white spaces as long as it doesn’t interfere with broadcasts. Opponents of this plan now include country music artist Dolly Parton, who sent a letter to the FCC urging a delay of the agency’s vote until more interference tests are completed. "As someone who uses the white spaces and knows the value of them for the work that I and many of my friends do around the country, … I can unequivocally confirm that the importance of clear, consistent wireless microphone broadcasts simply cannot be overstated," Parton wrote. "This industry relies on wireless technology and is in jeopardy of being irreversibly devastated by the commission’s pending decision." Click here for the full story