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Brennan Center Joins FCC Comments on the Importance of Digital Wireless Networks

(Februrary 28, 2005) - The Brennan Center has joined other media democracy groups in "Economic and Legal Reply Comments" to the Federal Communications Commission in two related proceedings dealing with so-called "white spaces" in the broadcast spectrum. The Comments emphasize the importance of promoting nonprofit community use of a portion of the public airwaves for wireless communications, instead of continuing to permit domination by commercial broadcasters.

The FCC proceedings involve proposed rules for the use of portions of the broadcast spectrum that are not licensed to any particular radio or TV company, or that consist of empty "guard bands" between stations on the TV dial. These unlicensed frequencies hold tremendous potential for decentralized, community use of the airwaves through wireless Internet connections.

The broadcast industry has objected to expanding unlicensed access to the airwaves, arguing that it might lead to interference with TV signals. But as the public interest coalition that filed the Reply Comments notes, broadcasters should not be permitted to continue "their steady erosion of the guard bands for their private use," at the expense of possible nonprofit uses, including municipal wireless Internet services. Instead, they say, the Commission should move quickly to authorize devices that operate in the unused broadcast bands.

The New America Foundation and the Media Access Project are the primary authors of the Economic and Legal Reply Comments, which can be found on the FCC Web site, at .



The Free Expression Policy Project began in 2000 as a project of the National Coalition Against Censorship, to provide empirical research and policy development on tough censorship issues and seek free speech-friendly solutions to the concerns that drive censorship campaigns. In 2004-2007, it was part of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law. Past funders have included the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Educational Foundation of America, the Open Society Institute, and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

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