Consumer, Public Interest and Media Reform Groups Urge Senate Commerce Committee to Expand the Availability of Unlicensed Spectrum

Emily Kryder, Common Cause, 202-736-5770

Jeannine Kenney, Consumers Union , 202-462-6262

Craig Aaron, Free Press , 202-265-1490 x 25

Consumer, Public Interest and Media Reform Groups Urge Senate Commerce Committee to Expand the Availability of Unlicensed Spectrum

Washington, DC – More than 20 public interest, civil rights and media reform groups today delivered a letter to members of the Senate Commerce Committee urging the Committee to make the availability of spectrum for unlicensed use a major priority of any digital television (DTV) transition legislation. The Committee is expected to vote on a DTV bill on Thursday.

Groups signing the letter include: Common Cause, Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, Free Press, the Media Access Project, National Hispanic Media Coalition, New America Foundation, and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.

The letter states that while the groups may have different priorities for the DTV transition overall, “on one crucial element of the bill, we speak with one voice: DTV legislation must expand availability of unlicensed spectrum to promote affordable broadband access.”

The groups urge Congress to both “set aside portions of the digital broadcast band for unlicensed use and direct the FCC to complete its stalled rulemaking to open unassigned TV channels in each market (TV band “white space”) for unlicensed wireless broadband services.”

The letter notes that expanding access to unlicensed spectrum would confer benefits on consumers, small businesses and low-income families. It concludes by noting that “the DTV transition represents an historic opportunity to maximize efficient use of public resources to meet public needs.”

Click here to read the full text of the letter:http://www.commoncause.org/atf/cf/{FB3C17E2-CDD1-4DF6-92BE-BD4429893665}/DTVSPECTRUMCOALITIONLETTER_10-18-05.PDF