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FCC defies Dolly Parton, opens white space waves

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Defying TV broadcasters, wireless microphone makers, God, and Dolly Parton, the FCC has opened America's "white spaces" to unlicensed net devices.

"Opening the white spaces will allow for the creation of a WiFi on steroids," according to a canned statement from Federal Communications Commission commissioner Kevin Martin. "It has the potential to improve wireless broadband connectivity and inspire an ever-widening array of new Internet based products and services for consumers.

"Consumers across the country will have access to devices and services that they may have only dreamed about before. I fully expect that everything from enhanced home broadband networks, to intelligent peer-to-peer devices, and even small communications networks will come into being in TV 'white spaces.'”

The plan was originally floated by a coalition of big-name tech outfits, including strange bedfellows Google and Microsoft. Goosoft hopes that opening the white spaces - portions of the television spectrum unused by active channels - will mean more people looking at online ads.

From the very beginning, TV broadcasters have opposed the plan, claiming net-happy white spaces devices will mess with grandma's football. And their complaints were echoed by the wireless microphone industry, which has already set up shop in the white spaces.

Along the way, anti-Goosoft lobbyists enlisted the help of countless wireless mic lovers, including mega-preacher Rich Warren and country music hall of famer Dolly Parton, who warned that white space devices may have "direct negative impact" on Dollywood, the Grand Ole Opry, and "9 to 5: The Musical."

In opening the white spaces, Martin and FCC vowed to protect TV signals and wireless mics from interference, saying all devices will be subject to approval by the FCC laboratory. But the anti-Goosoft lobby is still peeved.

"While we appreciate the FCC's attempt to address significant issues raised by broadcasters and others, every American who values interference-free TV should be concerned by today's Commission vote," said National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) executive vice president Dennis Wharton. "By moving the 'white space' vote forward, the Commission appears to have bypassed meaningful public or peer review in a proceeding of grave importance to the future of television.

"Fortunately, today's vote is just the beginning of a fight on behalf of the 110 million households that rely on television for news, entertainment, and lifesaving emergency information. Going forward, NAB and our allies will work with policymakers to ensure that consumers can access innovative broadband applications without jeopardizing interference-free TV." ®

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