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Bill Gates Talked White Spaces With FCC Commissioners

Kim Hart

The Microsoft Chairman had phone conversations with FCC Chairman Kevin Martin and Commissioner Michael Copps on Monday.

According to the an ex parte filed with the agency, "Mr. Gates commended the Commission for all the work it has done in the white spaces proceeding, and for seeking to adopt final white spaces rules at its November meeting. Mr. Gates observed that adopting the flexible operating rules advocated by the White Spaces Coalition is essential in enabling white space devices that will provide affordable broadband opportunities and create new markets for innovative applications and services. Mr. Gates also emphasized the need to conclude this proceeding on November 4th to allow companies to begin the process of bringing the benefits of white spaces to consumers."

Earlier this month, Microsoft's chief strategy guy Craig Mundie also met with the FCC about the white spaces issue. We had the chance to sit down with him for a few minutes, and I asked him what he thought of the idea of licensing the airwaves by selling them at an auction, which has been proposed by Qualcomm, CTIA, Aloha Partners, and others.

"Well, that would be a disaster," he said. "Why did Wi-Fi happen? It happened only for one reason -- there was a global, unlicensed frequency band where there was no requirement for people to come forward and seek permission or pay money," he said.

He said Microsoft started fighting for these airwaves to remain unlicensed as soon as Congress decided to reclaim some of the TV channels through the digital TV transition.

"The best thing that the Congress could do was at least give some of them in a similar vein back to the public, not essentially try to monetize it for short-term balancing of the government budget," he said.

By Kim Hart  |  October 22, 2008; 11:50 AM ET  | Category:  Kim Hart
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