[Editor’s Note: As many of you know, MAIN helped rally rural support last fall for the historic 5-0 victory at the FCC to allow unlicensed use of vacant TV channels — the so-called ‘white spaces’ — a vote which opens the door to solving the rural broadband crisis. This victory over corporate control of OUR public airwaves is unprecedented . . . and incomplete. Much more work needs to be done, as the Ars Technica article below explains.
Meanwhile, some false prophets here in WNC are criticizing MAIN’s current wireless broadband service because our signal isn’t available everywhere, or because the signal can be weakened — even blocked — by the growth of heavy foliage.
As MAIN prepares to apply for federal broadband stimulus funding, these voices will grow louder because their real agenda is to:
1. Oppose our work to create a more open and democratic media (via the Internet, low-power radio, public access TV, etc);
2. Ensure that federal subsidies remain the exclusive cash-cow of the cable and phone companies.
We have always tried to be upfront about the limits of current wireless technology. These limitations are why we worked so hard for access to better spectrum like the “white spaces”!
So, when you hear the false claims in the coming weeks, please help set the record straight by citing articles like the one below or links like this one on the democratizing power of local networks: http://www.main.nc.us/localnetworks/ Thanks so much for being part of this historic work!
Wally Bowen, Executive Director
From Ars Technica:
Unlicensed spectrum brought us wireless phones and WiFi—so why isn’t more available? Several key thinkers behind “TV white space devices” now say that those ideas could and should be extended to many other bands.
By Nate Anderson, Ars Technica
Say you have some bright idea for the “next WiFi” and you just need a tiny little smidgen of open spectrum in which to deploy the invention that will bring cheap, easy, ubiquitous communications nirvana to everyone. Can you get it?
Generally, no. The US government squats on huge swaths of spectrum, while paid-up license holders (like cell phone service providers) control much of the rest. Slivers of spectrum are left open for unlicensed use, and those tiny bands have produced great big social benefits: wireless baby monitors, wireless phones, and WiFi.
But a set of papers from the New America Foundation argue that the Obama administration should take a different course on spectrum, making it simple for entrepreneurs to launch new wireless devices even in occupied bands. Their common credo: spectrum is abundant—if you treat it right.
Let’s start sharing . . .