What’s up with the white spaces? We need to know by Nov 4

Have you ever watched a preschool kid carry a goldfish in a bowl? It’s not quite like watching a slow train wreck – but you know it’s not going to be good. Maybe it won’t be good for the goldfish, maybe it won’t be good for the kid, or maybe you’ll end up picking up the pieces and you wonder why you let it go on so long.

I’m starting to feel that way about the white spaces issue at the FCC. (I want to thank Christopher Mitchell for calling me today to remind me about it.) There is a sense of urgency as the FCC is going to endorse use of white space on November 4, 2008. (Since nothing else is going on that day!)

There’s been a lot of flip flopping about the use of the white spaces. The Digital Expansion Initiative posted a good video that explains how white spaces can be used. It definitely leans in one direction – but it’s so simple that I think my preschooler (who I don’t trust with fish) might understand the explanation.

The big hubbub is whether white spaces should be opened up to a wider broadcasting audience (such as wifi devices). The folks who promote wider use say yes. The traditional broadcasters say no. The FCC is about to say yes. The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) have been saying no – loudly and clearly, especially to members of Congress – including Senator Amy Klobuchar.

So there’s been a counter push to contact the Senators to let them know what you think. So if you are so inclined – now is a good time to contact your Senator.

To go back to my original analogy – white space has been an issue that I have been trying to ignore, not actively ignore but ignore as I might ignore a preschooler who is heading for a minor collision yet is entertained for the time being. The problem is that something is going to happen soon.

This entry was posted in FCC, Policy, Wireless by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (blandinonbroadband.org), hosts a radio show on MN music (mostlyminnesota.com), supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota (elimstrongtowershelters.org) and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

3 thoughts on “What’s up with the white spaces? We need to know by Nov 4

  1. Opening up White Spaces is what Rural America Needs!

    Opening up these vacant airwaves — called white spaces — is especially crucial for rural communities. In this age of the iPhone and Blackberry, more than 20 million of our fellow citizens – the vast majority in rural areas – still use a dial-up telephone line for Internet access! In rural parts of the country, more than 75% of TV airwaves sit vacant. Making these airwaves available for Internet access must be a priority.

    I work for the Main Street Project. We are a grassroots cultural organizing, media justice and economic development initiative working to give rural residents of all ages, cultures, economic and immigration status the opportunity to more fully participate in all aspects of community life. We know that access to internet communication in the 21st century is not a luxury; it’s a necessity!

    Quality, affordable broadband access can provide rural residents with important opportunities for education, health, economic development, and public safety. Yet, only a third of rural residents have access to broadband at home. We NEED the FCC to open up white spaces (vacant channels) and create new ways to bring broadband to underserved rural communities and help close the digital divide.

    Don’t let this issue get lost in the flurry of the general elections. Join the Main Street Project, Center for Rural Strategies, the Mountain Area Information Network and others who are part of our Rural White Spaces Campaign and tell the FCC we need white spaces.

    Please take a moment and call your Senators!

    Senator Norm Coleman

    Senator Amy Klobuchar

    To learn more about the campaign to open white spaces, visit:


    Rural residents: Check out the “ex parte” letter which 10 rural organizations filed with the FCC earlier this week: http://main.nc.us/whitespaces/files/fcc-letter.html

  2. Pingback: More hubbub on the FCC meeting on Tuesday « Blandin on Broadband

  3. Pingback: FCC Meeting November 4, 2008 (White Spaces) « Blandin on Broadband

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