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FCC to Vote on Use of Public Airwaves for Rural America

October 29, 2008

With the bulk of media attention on the last week of the presidential elections, almost no reporting has been done about a very important vote the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will make next week.
In February of 2009, when the digital conversion takes place for TV, there will be lots of open spectrum available for public use, particularly in rural communities. All across the United States, there are communities that do not have access to high speed Internet. One possibility for more of rural America to gain access to the Internet would be to provide broadband Internet access by using the available digital spectrum that will be available once the digital conversion takes place.
Companies like Comcast and AT&T leave out many rural communities, because they are not considered “profitable.” Utilizing the spectrum that is unused in many rural communities, digital space that is referred to as “white space,” could provide those communities with an important and viable service. However, the very companies who don’t want to service rural communities also don’t want the available TV spectrum to be used to serve the public.
The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), the powerful lobbying entity for broadcasters nationwide, is hoping to get the FCC to vote against opening the TV spectrum for public use.
Fortunately the Main Street Project, Center for Rural Strategies, the
Mountain Area Information Network, and Free Press have joined forces to pressure the FCC to vote in favor of greater access to the media for the public.
You can let your voice be heard by contacting the FCC before their November 4 vote and tell them that making the TV spectrum known as white space available for public use would greatly benefit rural America. You can send an e-mail to your members of Congress by going to an online media alert put together by Free Press.

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