Despite the obvious reliance on unlicensed spectrum by Americans every day in the form of everything from wifi to baby monitors to RFID, the current mania for spectrum auction revenues combined with lobbying from companies opposed to the TV white space has put the future of unlicensed spectrum at risk. This is particularly true under the discussion draft circulated by House Republicans last week. That draft would require that before the FCC could allocate any new spectrum for unlicensed use, it would first have to have an auction that would allow companies to buy the spectrum for exclusive use. Only if everyone collectively outbid AT&T or Verizon for unlicensed would the spectrum go to unlicensed use. As Stacy Higginbotham at GigaOm notes, this would have devastating impact on the future of unlicensed and the innovation that comes out of the unlicensed bands.
As if that were not enough, the proposed bill literally allows companies to buy their way out of FCC consumer protection regulation.
We are trying to stop this before it’s too late. Public Knowledge has created an Action Alert asking anyone who cares about protecting unlicensed, or opposed to letting companies literally buy their own rules, then help us this Friday (tomorrow) by telling your member of Congress not to sell off our digital future or let companies buy their way out of public interest obligations. Sign up for the PK mobile Action Alert and you will get a text message tomorrow letting you directly contact your member of Congress so you can tell them why this bill is a really, really bad idea.
I reprint the PK Action Alert below.
Stay tuned . . . .
House Republicans proposed draft legislation last week that would let companies like Fox, AT&T and Verizon buy their way out of public interest obligations. Here’s how:
Broadcasters, like Fox, can buy their way out of public interest obligations if they put spectrum licenses up for sale.
Wireless companies, like AT&T and Verizon, can buy their way out of consumer protections if they buy this new spectrum.
“Unlicensed spectrum” is on the auction block, selling off public airwaves and making us pay for future WiFi-like services.
To make it worse, all of this is wrapped up in the debt ceiling debate, but won’t actually make a significant dent in the national debt.
Don’t think it’s worth the tradeoff (less unlicensed spectrum and less wireless innovation for very little benefit to either the public or the government’s bottom line)? Call your Member of Congress!
We’re making this as easy as possible by setting up a day of action this Friday, July 22. To participate, all you need is a mobile phone with the ability to send and receive SMS messages.* If you haven’t already signed up for PK Mobile Action Alerts, take a moment to do so now. We’ll contact you on Friday with instructions on how to take action.
*We promise to never give away your mobile number and to only send out Mobile Action Alerts at the most crucial times.