The following replicates an important press release from freepress.net. Free Press is "a national, nonpartisan organization working to reform the media. Through education, organizing and advocacy, we promote diverse and independent media ownership, strong public media, and universal access to communications."
Today, the Federal Communications Commission voted to approve the unlicensed use of "white spaces" -- empty airwaves between television channels -- to provide high-speed Internet access nationwide. This vote follows an exhaustive 18-month study released last month by the FCC's Office of Engineering and Technology that concluded new technology can use white spaces without harming adjacent TV signals.
In letters to the FCC and Congress, the nation's leading consumer, media and public interest groups voiced their strong support for opening white spaces. These groups include Free Press, the National Organization for Women, Feminist Majority, Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, Consumers Union, Consumer Federation of America, Public Knowledge, Media Access Project, MoveOn.org, U.S. Public Interest Research Group, Common Cause and the Center for Media Justice, among others.
Nearly every market in the United States has available white spaces; in some communities, more than three-quarters of the broadcast spectrum is unused. Today's FCC vote allows innovators to develop new technologies that will bring Internet service to millions of Americans in underserved communities.
Ben Scott, policy director of Free Press, made the following statement:
"In a landslide vote at the FCC today, the public was the big winner. On this Election Day, the FCC chose to put politics aside and voted in favor of a policy grounded in sound science. The bipartisan decision to open white spaces puts consumers first, marking a change in Internet policy we can all believe in.
"Over the past eight years, the United States has fallen behind many other world leaders in providing fast, affordable Internet access. Nearly half of American homes are still not connected to broadband.
"The phone and cable companies that dominate the broadband market promise more of the same slow speeds and high prices that put us in this mess. Opening white spaces adds much-needed competition and innovation -- sparking economic growth at a time when jobs and investment are on a downward spiral.
"Thankfully, the mudslinging is over. Now it's time to start a new era of innovation that will help close the digital divide and finally provide Internet for everyone."