WASHINGTON DC - Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) today introduced the American Broadband for Communities Act of 2006. The Act frees up spectrum not being used by broadcasters for unlicensed wireless devices which would provide communities with wireless broadband and home networking services.
Broadcasters are allocated hundreds of megahertz of spectrum to provide television service across the country. But in any one market some of the spectrum goes unused. Some studies have indicated that there is more than 150 MHz of spectrum in Anchorage, Alaska, and Honolulu, Hawaii, that could be used by unlicensed devices for wireless services. Even in large cities like Boston and Chicago it is estimated that nearly 50 MHz of spectrum goes unused.
The bill would allow manufacturers to design unlicensed devices to be operated in the broadcast spectrum not being used by broadcasters. These unlicensed devices would make it easier for companies to offer broadband services to consumers. The devices would be designed to sense their environment and identify what spectrum is in use and would only use portions of the broadcast spectrum not being used by broadcasters.
“Allowing unlicensed operations in the broadcast band could play a significant role in bringing wireless broadband and home networking to more of our citizens by lowering costs, particularly in my home state of Alaska where connectivity is so important due to the state’s remote location,” said Stevens.
The American Broadband for Communities Act also directs the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) craft technical requirements for unlicensed devices in the broadcast band that would protect broadcast stations, a proceeding it has already initiated. In addition, the legislation urges the FCC to further establish an interference complaint resolution process for broadcasters.
“We believe that our requirements in the bill would give the broadcasters additional protection while allowing more efficient use of the valuable broadcast spectrum, which is an invaluable public resource,” said Stevens.