WASHINGTON: A coalition that includes Microsoft, Google, and Dell is readying public outreach and lobbying for regulatory approval to use television broadcast spectrum for wireless broadband access.
Managed by Qorvis Communications, the Wireless Innovation Alliance (WIA) campaign will include public, media, and policymaker outreach. Qorvis director Jake Ward said tactical plans for the effort are still to be worked out, but the overall message will focus the benefits of such innovation, including for rural areas where broadband access to date has been relatively lacking.
"For policy-makers, we'll emphasize that it isn't the government's job to be picking winners and losers in technology and that there is enough room for TV and 'white space' technology on the same spectrum," he added. "For the public, the message will be that this is an amazing technology and, most important, a way to bring ubiquitous broadband to rural schools and communities."
The WIA, which has launched a Web site at www.wirelessinnovationalliance.com, faces vigorous opposition from the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), which argues that use of this avail- able spectrum would likely interfere with digital TV transmission.
An NAB ad and lobbying push began last month seeking to forestall FCC approval on the issue.
While Ward said his group simply wants approval for the spectrum to be made potentially available for wireless spectrum, NAB EVP of media relations Dennis Wharton said the alliance ultimately wants unlicensed devices to access the spectrum.
Instead, the NAB favors a scheme that would create fixed, licensed devices for obtaining wireless broadband in rural areas.
Wharton said outreach is being handled mainly in-house by the NAB's lobbying and PR staff and has already included ads in DC titles like Roll Call and meetings between TV executives, FCC commissioners, and members of Congress.
The FCC has yet to schedule a review of the issue.