John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Crucial Dolly Parton Endorsement Fails to Swing "White Spaces" Vote

I don’t know all the legalese concerning this issue so I’ve had some very smart people inform me about the legalities here. I do know, however, that as a performer who tours much of the country throughout the year and is involved in several live entertainment ventures, I join with fellow producers and performers across the country in bringing this matter to your attention. I have deep concern over the Commission’s announcement that it intends to vote on an order allowing devices using spectrum sensing technology to occupy the ‘white space’ radio frequencies on November 4, 2008.”

Excerpt from Dolly Parton’s Oct. 24 letter to the FCC

Over the objections of television broadcasters, theater producers and Dolly Parton, the Federal Communications Commission Tuesday approved a plan to open up unused frequencies between television channels–known as “white spaces”–for a national broadband network. This 300MHz to 400MHz range of unused spectrum lies between channels 2 to 51 on analog television sets and is perfect for offering wireless broadband services because it’s able to carry signals long distances and easily penetrate trees and walls. And while critics argue that using them in this way might interfere with TV signals or, heaven forbid, the wireless microphones in Dolly Parton’s Broadway production of “9 to 5,” the FCC felt such concerns to be overblown and ruled the country would be better served if the spectrum were opened up for free public use.

“The proponents have argued that we can enable a whole new generation of wireless devices–bringing new broadband connectivity to our rural and urban communities–without harming free, over-the-air TV,” Commissioner Michael J. Copps said Tuesday. “Does this seem almost too good to be true? Of course. But so did the modern cellular industry, the explosion of Wi-Fi devices and so many other innovations at comparable stages in their development. Even the notion of transmitting high-quality video through the air to millions of TV sets must have seemed pretty fantastical when it was first demonstrated decades ago. This is the history of wireless innovation in a nutshell–the nearly miraculous becomes commonplace.”

Google (GOOG), which had lobbied heavily for the move, applauded the FCC’s decision, saying it would spur massive technological innovation. “This is a clear victory for Internet users and anyone who wants good wireless communications,” Google co-founder Larry Page said in a post to the company blog. “We will soon have ‘Wi-Fi on steroids’ since these spectrum signals have much longer range than today’s Wi-Fi technology and broadband access can be spread using fewer base stations resulting in better coverage at lower cost. And it is wonderful that the FCC has adopted the same successful unlicensed model used for Wi-Fi, which has resulted in a projected 1 billion Wi-Fi chips being produced this year. Now that the FCC has set the rules, I’m sure that we’ll see similar growth in products to take advantage of this spectrum.”

Not if the National Association of Broadcasters has anything to do with it. In a statement the NAB said that “every American who values interference-free TV should be concerned by today’s Commission vote” and vowed to fight it “on behalf of the 110 million households that rely on television for news, entertainment and lifesaving emergency information.”


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald