updated 03:20 pm EDT, Mon October 27, 2008
Gates Plea to FCC
Bill Gates is petitioning the Federal Communications Commission directly to bring a quicker end to the debate over white space mobile Internet access, Microsoft revealed today. The executive is making a personal call directly to FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell to dissuade him and others from delaying a decision on permission to use the special white space frequencies, which sit in between regular licensed airwaves and promise to supply open and potentially free long-range wireless data.
The move is said to follow talks with Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein and Chairman Kevin Martin to make Microsoft's case in favor of the unlicensed access, which Microsoft and fellow technology firms like Google argue is necessary to provide widespread broadband in the US where telecom firms and physical limitations have discouraged cellular or landline service.
The pressure on the FCC has been spurred on by calls from the National Association of Broadcasters to stall any decision and open up any decision on approving white space to public commentary. The NAB's members, which include TV and radio providers, charge that white space potentially interferes with their services. Critics have responded that the NAB has a vested interest in shutting down white space to prevent competition from Internet radio and video.
FCC engineers themselves have so far said white space use doesn't create significant interference with nearby network formats.