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Prudes Congressmen pledge support for porn-free spectrum

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When it comes to filtering adult content in the US things are due to get that bit more um, sticky. Two Democrat members of the US congress have sent an open letter to FCC Chair Kevin Martin, supporting the agency's goal of a nationwide wireless service suitable for family viewing and accusing detractors of playing for time.

The letter (pdf) comes from Anna G Eshoo and Edward J Markey, both Democrats, and represents the first governmental support for the FCC's scheme to open up a chunk of spectrum for open access while protecting users from the various unpleasantness found on the open internet.

The FCC would like to see 25MHz of spectrum, at 2155Mhz, auctioned off to someone prepared to implement appropriate filtering software as well as deploying to 95 per cent of the USA within ten years, and providing basic access for free.

The plan has been attacked from just about every side, but particularly from the incumbent operators who reckon that if the wrong technology is deployed in the band then it might interfere with their own networks. T-Mobile has been particularly vociferous in demanding more testing to ensure there's no interference between any potentially-deployed Time Division Duplex service and their nearby network based on Frequency Division Duplexing.

The letter points out that the UK regulator Ofcom did extensive tests which it would be pointless to replicate. M2Z, the company behind the original plan which differed only in that they were given the spectrum for free, goes further (pdf), pointing out that T-Mobile is already running TDD right beside an FDD network in the Czech Republic.

The letter is explicit that demands for interference testing "would needlessly delay this auction" and expresses concern that this is exactly what the proponents have in mind in order to "kill this effort totally".

The signatories are significant players in Capitol Hill, and their support will be welcomed by the FCC. But even if the plan goes ahead, there's still the chaos to be faced of deciding exactly what constitutes "family friendly" to everyone in America - if such a thing exists at all. ®

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