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FCC's McDowell on broadband plan, white spaces, Google as administrator

Federal Communications Commission member Robert McDowell said during an interview taped today for C-Span’s "The Communicators" that it is unclear whether the national broadband plan being prepared by the agency will be voted on by commissioners.

And he said that after the plan is presented to Congress on Feb. 17, it won't be "self-executing" or "legally binding" but will likely spin off a number of new policy endeavors at the FCC such as the reform of a federal phone subsidy program called the Universal Service Fund.

Post Tech participated in the interview, where McDowell talked about spectrum allocation and the debate between broadcasters and wireless providers over airwaves. McDowell said that there is a need for more spectrum, but that there will also be demand for broadcasters and wireless providers to make the use of spectrum more efficient. He said white spaces – or unlicensed airwaves – could help meet demand for wireless broadband services. He said the technology, known as WiFi on steroids, could also help solve other public policy goals such as net neutrality.

When asked about Google’s push yesterday to build and run a national database for commercial devices to access unlicensed airwaves, McDowell said the agency should look into whether there would be a conflict. He said the administrator of a database would be a “neutral third party.”

“The administration of phone numbers, for example, has been administrated by a neutral third party, by someone without business interests,” he said.

Google has stepped up its push into communications services and will later today (within minutes) announce a new phone based off its Android operating system.

See the show online here. It will also run on C-SPAN this Saturday at 6:30 p.m. and Monday at 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.

By Cecilia Kang  |  January 5, 2010; 1:10 PM ET
Categories:  Broadband , FCC , Google , Net Neutrality  
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