One step closer to TV white spaces access and preserving the open Internet

On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission established a portion of the regulatory framework necessary to foster the development of a commercial domestic market for unlicensed devices operating in the TV white spaces as part of its Report and Order that makes television broadcast frequencies in the 600 MHz spectrum band available for wireless broadband use.

The reorganized 600 MHz band plan calls for:

· One full (6 MHz) TV white spaces channel to operate in the guard band (duplex gap) between the licensed 4G-LTE uplink and licensed 4G-LTE downlink

· One full TV white spaces channel to share Channel 37 on a secondary basis with Wireless Medical Telemetry Services and Radio Astronomy facilities

· One full TV white spaces channel to share on a secondary basis with licensed wireless microphones

· In limited circumstances, one full TV white spaces channel to be situated in the guard band between the licensed 4G-LTE service and licensed over-the-air television broadcasters

· The ability for unlicensed devices to access white spaces between the remaining TV channels.

Microsoft and other TV white spaces advocates had asked the FCC to make available in every market at least four usable, 6 MHz TV white spaces channels, where personal, portable TV white spaces devices could operate at or near its maximum power level of 40 milliwatts. We believed these were the minimum requirements needed for Wi-Fi chip designers and manufacturers to make the necessary large-scale investments. It was a hard-fought compromise, and we thank Chairman Wheeler and Commissioners Clyburn and Rosenworcel for supporting the allocation of spectrum for unlicensed use in the band.

We also learned Thursday that, later this year, the FCC will move forward on a rulemaking to update its technical rules for fixed and mobile unlicensed devices operating in the TV white spaces. The updated technical rules, when combined with the 600 MHz band plan, will complete the regulatory framework for unlicensed devices operating in the TV white spaces.

Over the years, the U.S. has demonstrated technical and policy leadership in its efforts to enable unlicensed access to the TV white spaces. The FCC’s actions Thursday with respect to the reorganized 600 MHz band plan build on that leadership.

In addition to addressing the incentive auction and use of spectrum, the FCC also launched a proposed rulemaking to protect and promote the open Internet. Microsoft has long been a proponent of net neutrality protections in the U.S. and around the world.

Microsoft intends to fully engage in the FCC’s rule making processes to support the growing role spectrum plays in our communications networks and as a key driver of our innovation economy, and we look forward to reviewing the Open Internet proposal in detail and engaging the Commission during the course of the proceeding to find the best way to adopt meaningful net neutrality rules.

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