Allen’s wireless act

Brent Finnegan -- August 24th, 2006

Senator Allen was in the burg today at a Chamber of Commerce luncheon. He hit the standard political talking points: keep taxes low, tighten up the border security, better primary and secondary education…

But one interesting question was thrown at him about 2009–the year that our standard definition TVs will become more-or-less obsolete. What will happen to the unused spectrum when TVs go all digital? From the CNET article: “the government will [auction off] the remaining spectrum to companies interested in deploying wireless technologies.” While one could argue that this sounds sketchy (telecommunication corporations have plenty of lobbyists in DC) it’s supposed to grant “unlicensed, non-exclusive use of television broadcast channels between 54 MHz and 698 MHz that are currently wasted.” The topic gave Allen an opportunity to talk about his Wireless Innovation Act. The legislation, co-sponsored by Senator John Kerry, is designed to utilize the unused spectrums to make wireless broadband Internet available in rural areas. Allen said the soon-to-be-old analog TV spectrums can be used to provide high-speed Internet in the boondocks. The legislation has been endorsed by consumer advocacy group Consumers Union and corporate media watchdog site Free Press.

This act wouldn’t necessarily affect Harrisonburg, but it would affect parts of Rockingham County and adjacent rural areas… And folks in the burg will still need to buy a new TV (or a converter) by February 18, 2009 — conveniently scheduled after the Super Bowl.


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