WASHINGTON Oct 24 A senior U.S. lawmaker on
Friday joined a growing chorus asking the head of the Federal
Communications Commission to explain his plan to open unused
airwaves for wireless devices, an approach backed by Google Inc
FCC Chairman Kevin Martin has scheduled a Nov. 4 vote by
the commission on his plan to allow unlicensed use of parts of
the spectrum called "white spaces." These unused pockets of the
spectrum will become available when U.S. broadcasters are
required to move completely to digital television next year.
Google, Motorola Inc MOT.N and Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O)
are among the companies that want the unused spectrum for a new
generation of wireless devices.
Rep. John Dingell, chairman of the House of Representatives
House Energy and Commerce Committee, sent a list of questions
to Martin, including whether an FCC engineering report was peer
reviewed, and how the agency would deal with interference from
broadcast signals if it occurs.
"Why did the Commission decline to adopt a licensed
approach to some of all of this spectrum?" Dingell, a Michigan
Democrat, wrote, reflecting the concerns of the broadcasters
and other opponents of the plan.
Executives from News Corp NWSa.N. Walt Disney's (DIS.N)
ABC, CBS Corp (CBS.N) and General Electric's (GE.N) NBC signed
a letter protesting the proposal earlier this week.
Dingell asked for responses from Martin by next Friday,
four days ahead of the FCC's scheduled vote.
Big sports leagues, such as Major League Baseball and
NASCAR, said in a regulatory filing that the current proposal
is a "huge leap backward" in sports broadcasting, threatening
to disrupt events because of possible interference issues.
Martin's plan is backed by several consumer groups, which
say it will help expand cheaper broader to high-cost areas like