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[Openspectrum] Broad WISP/User Coalition Reply Comments Filed Proposing 90 MHz Unlicensed Band at 2.5 (ITFS/MDS proceeding)
Sun, 26 Oct 2003 15:20:23 -0500
We thought you would be interested in the FCC Reply Comments in the high-stakes
ITFS/MDS proceeding that we filed Thursday on behalf of an increasingly diverse
coalition of WISPs (e.g., AMA TechTel, Roadstar), community access networks
(e.g., NYCwireless, BAWUG, Rockwood PA school district) and national
consumer/user groups (e.g., Consumers Union, Consumer Federation of America).
The list of groups signing on is belwo, just after the 5 key summary points.
Our proposal is that 90 of the total 190 MHz now allocated to ITFS/MDS should
be reallocated (as part of the band's reorg) to create a new, dedicated
unlicensed band at 2.5 GHz -- immediately adjacent to the 2.4 band where WiFi
thrives. Although we defended the concept of the spectrum set-aside for
education (ITFS - which has 120 of the band), it is clear the FCC is disposed
to reallocate much of it -- but likely to auction licenses for "flexible"
advanced (3G/4G) wireless services.
At the very bottom is the plea from NYCwireless for additional comments from
open spectrum advocates. Unfortunately, judging by the filings to date, we are
grossly outnumbered by comments saying that ANY unlicensed access creates
intolerable interference and even that it is ILLEGAL for the FCC to allow
unlicensed access to spectrum! (e.g., the comments of Stanford and Northeastern
Universities repeat this extreme claim that previously had been made only by
It is not too late to add comments to the docket; they might not have court
standing, but could influence the Commission. Please do!
Reply Comments (filed 10/23/03):
Summary of key points in NAF et al.’s Comments and Reply Comments:
• The proposed re-banding and grant of new flexibility rights to ITFS and MDS
include a reallocation of approximately half the total band (90 MHz) for
access on a primary basis; this can be done while protecting licensee’s
expectations to the services and transmission capacity under their license, and
to the upper portion of the band can be funded by makers of unlicensed
from auction proceeds by asking Congress to extend the pending Spectrum
for relocating federal users.
• Alternatively, a band equivalent to the current ITFS allocation (120 MHz)
preserved for education on a primary basis, but opened to maximize unlicensed
as an underlay, subject to non-interference with existing ITFS applications;
should include both unlicensed access to the unassigned “white space” on a
primary basis, but
also opportunistic access of unlicensed communication using unused or
capacity within licensed geographic service areas across the entire ITFS/MDS
• If the Commission decides to reallocate or reassign license rights on the
band, any auction
mechanism must comply with the statutory goals and restrictions of the
which the proposed “two-sided” giveaway auction decidedly does not, as it
revenue from the Treasury to private parties; a genuine auction where potential
in terms of the annual user fee would best optimize the various policy goals of
• The ITFS allocation should be maintained as noncommercial public service
Commission should retain the ITFS eligibility requirements and should require
noncommercial public service requirements in return for the free use of
increased flexibility to provide valuable data networking services.
• If the Commission determines that unlicensed public access to the band – on
an underlay or
primary basis – is feasible and desirable, it should refrain from imposing a
intermediary between citizens and license exempt spectrum; a retreat from the
Part 15 model that is characteristic of the WiFi band (2.4GHz), as suggested by
would undermine First Amendment values, as well as the goals of innovation and
competition favored by the Communications Act.
Commentors in this proceeding fall into three broad categories: commercial
wireless services using unlicensed spectrum access; non-profit users of
access using unlicensed access to promote education, broadband deployment, free
narrow the digital divide; and users of licensed and unlicensed wireless
Emenity, Inc.: Eminity builds custom-designed, fully outsourced local wireless
private and public organizations. Emenity is based in New York City and has
field offices in San
Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, and Washington, DC. Emenity designed the Lower
Wireless Network, a public wireless network built for the Alliance for Downtown
Roadstar Internet, Inc.: Roadstar is a wireless Internet service provider
County, Virginia. Roadstar has over 100 business and residential subscribers to
broadband Internet network, relying solely on license-exempt spectrum.
Rockwood Area School District, Somerset County, Pennsylvania is a rural school
in southern Pennsylvania that has built an unlicensed wireless infrastructure
for their elementary
and high schools that also supports broadband connections for residences and
businesses in the
AMA*TechTel Communications is a large regional provider of unlicensed wireless
broadband Internet, serving more than 4,000 residential and business customers
in West Texas.
In addition to wireless Internet service, AMATechTel also provides Dial-up,
ISDN, DSL, T1, and
VPN services, as well as long distance and phone and messaging systems.
NoCat is a community supported 802.11b wireless network in Sonoma County, CA.
provide software, information and technical support to unlicensed wireless
users and network and
access point developers at their web site: http://nocat.net/
NYCwireless: NYCwireless serves as an advocacy group for wireless community
providing free, public wireless Internet service to mobile users in public
spaces throughout the
New York City metro area. These public spaces include parks, coffee shops, and
NYCwireless also works with public and nonprofit organizations to bring
Internet to underserved communities. http://www.nycwireless.net
Bay Area Wireless User Group: BAWUG was founded to promote broadband wireless
Internet within the greater San Francisco Bay Area. BAWUG was started by radio
enthusiasts to provide technical and organizational support for wireless users
and developers of
access points. http://www.bawug.org
The Bay Area Research Wireless Network: BARWN.org has built free public wireless
networks in the San Francisco Bay Area with the goal of researching and
developing the most
cost efficient technologies and network designs to provide under-served
wireless broadband Internet. http://www.barwn.org
SeattleWireless.net: SeattleWireless is a not-for-profit effort to develop a
broadband community network. SeattleWireless uses widely available,
technology operating in license free frequency, to create a free, locally owned
NewburyOpen.net is an open WI-FI network that provides high-speed Internet
the form of free wireless and for-pay workstations, to Boston residents,
workers, and travelers.
NewburyOpen.net is a testbed for new business models, technologies, and
revolving around the idea of the ubiquitous Internet. http://www.newburyopen.net
New America Foundation: NAF is a nonpartisan, non-profit public policy
institute based in
Washington, D.C., which, through its Spectrum Policy Program, studies and
advocates reforms to
improve our nation’s management of publicly-owned assets, particularly the
Media Access Project: MAP is a 30 year-old non-profit, public interest
law firm which represents civil rights, civil liberties, consumer, religious
and other citizens
groups before the FCC, other federal agencies and the Courts.
Consumers Union: CU, publisher of Consumer Reports, is an independent,
and information organization serving only consumers.
Consumer Federation of America: CFA is the nation's largest consumer advocacy
composed of two hundred and eighty state and local affiliates representing
citizen, low-income, labor, farm, public power and cooperative organizations,
with more than
fifty million individual members. http://www.consumerfed.org/
The Center for Digital Democracy: CDD is a nonprofit public interest
committed to preserving the openness and diversity of the Internet in the
broadband era, and to
realizing the full potential of digital communications through the development
encouragement of noncommercial, public interest content and services.
Public Knowledge: PK is a public interest advocacy organization dedicated to
defending a vibrant information commons. PK works with wide spectrum of
promote the core conviction that some fundamental democratic principles and
cultural values –
openness, access, and the capacity to create and compete – must be given new
embodiment in the
digital age. http://www.publicknowledge.org
The Benton Foundation: The Benton Foundation's mission is to articulate a
vision for the digital age and to demonstrate the value of communications for
From: Dustin Goodwin [mailto:address@hidden
Sent: Monday, October 20, 2003 6:51 PM
To: Matt Barranca; address@hidden; Michael Calabrese
Subject: [Fwd: [nycwireless] FCC - NYCw call to action]
fyi this went out to the NYCw mailing list.
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Subject: [nycwireless] FCC - NYCw call to action
Date: Mon, 20 Oct 2003 18:46:24 -0400
From: dgoody <address@hidden>
As you may recall NYCwireless took it's first major policy action by
signing onto FCC comments authored by the New America Foundation and the
Media Access Project that support making more unlicensed spectrum
available. Specifically these comments oppose action by the FCC to give
away spectrum within the ITFS band that was originally allocated for
educational broadcast to the cellular industry.
Remember the wireless revolution would not be possible without the
existing unlicensed band where 802.11b technology operates.
Unfortunately this band is getting more and more crowded with
applications and users. Additional spectrum will be required in the near
future to keep the wifi revolution going. Individuals should have equal
access to the airwaves not just huge corporations. The frequency
spectrum is a common good that belongs to all Americans and should not
be given away to rich telecommunication companies. Giant corporations
already control access to television networks, don't let this happen to
the rest of the spectrum. If the coalition of private interests behind
the proposed changes to the ITFS/MDS band get their way it will result
in huge give away of valuable spectrum to the cellular industry and a
historic opportunity to provide more unlicensed spectrum will be missed.
Individuals within NYCw need to take action to make all of our voices
heard by the FCC. The best way for the NYCw community to make a
difference is for everyone to file comments individually on the FCC
website. The following is the short form of the instructions, read the
directions written up by the Media Access Project below to find out more
about the process. It's is best if your write a paragraph or two
explaining how unlicensed spectrum (the spectrum used by Wifi) has had a
positive impact on your life, your business or your community.
The process (short form)
1. Surf to http://gullfoss2.fcc.gov/prod/ecfs/upload_v2.cgi
2. Fill in the relevant info and the Docket No. is 03-66. This is
important you MUST list the docket no.
3. Let the FCC know that you feel the best use of the ITFS/MDS spectrum
if for unlicensed usage. Anecdotal stories about the benefits of
unlicense spectrum/wifi has had on your life will make your comments
- Dustin -
Increasing Public Access to Unlicensed Spectrum
By Harold Feld, Associate Director, Media Access Project
Copyright 2003 to Media Access Project.
Released under the Creative Commons BY License
An obscure proceeding at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
may hold the key to the next evolution in unlicensed wireless services.
For the first time, the FCC has proposed dedicating a significant
amount of spectrum to unlicensed access on a primary basis. This means
that users within the new unlicensed band would not have to worry about
whether they interfered with a protected service. Even better, the
proposed band includes spectrum immediately adjacent to the existing 2.4
GHz underlay. The existing unlicensed underlay in the 2.4 GHz band has
spurred vast amounts of telecommunication innovation and investment;
increasing the available bandwidth will reward those who have developed
this technology and spur further growth and wider deployment. If the
FCC approves the proposal, the benefits to unlicensed wireless
technologies would be enormous.
At the same time, however, the FCC has also proposed auctioning the
rights to an unlicensed underlay. This proposal, if accepted, would
entirely defeat the purpose of unlicensed access. Worse, it would set a
negative precedent that could severely limit the expansion of unlicensed
The FCC needs to hear from all users and supporters of unlicensed
wireless access in support of allocating the relevant band for primary
unlicensed access. This document provides background, general
guidelines, and instructions for how to file at the FCC. It is not
intended as a form letter or sign on petition. The FCC needs to hear
the stories of people using unlicensed access and who are eager to take
this technology to the next level of deployment and innovation.
However, as described below, anyone with Internet access can file
comments at the FCC.
On April 2, 2003, the FCC released a “Notice of Proposed Rulemaking,” or
NPRM. A NPRM is an agency proposal to change existing rules. By law, a
federal agency must give the public a chance to see proposed rule
changes and to file comments on these changes. The FCC usually has a
deadline to file comments and a deadline to file replies to these
comments. In addition, however, members of the public can continue to
file comments even after these deadlines.
This NPRM goes by the rather lengthy name “Amendment of Parts 1, 21, 73,
74 and 101 of the Commission’s Rules to Facilitate the Provision of
Fixed and Mobile Broadband Access, Educational and Other Advanced
Services in the 2150-2162 and 2500-2690 MHz Bands.” It’s Docket Number
is WT 03-66. This information will be important later. The NPRM
discusses a proposal by certainly licensees to restructure the
Multipoint Distribution Service (MDS) and Instructional Fixed Television
While this sounds extremely boring and technical – and in many ways is –
the essence of the NPRM is a question: What do we do with a huge band of
spectrum covering from 2500 MHz to 2690 MHz. Those familiar with
spectrum will recognize this as prime spectrum with excellent
propagation characteristics. Furthermore, importantly for unlicensed
access aficionados, it sits practically adjacent to one of the existing
unlicensed bands (2400 MHz). At the moment, this spectrum is parceled
into exclusive licenses that are required to offer fixed point-to-point
two way communication on either a commercial basis (MDS service) or
non-commercial educational basis (ITFS).
Under the current rules, none of the licensees can really exploit the
potential of the band. The original rules for the service date back to
the 1970s, and the efforts by the FCC to fix these rules over the years
to make the spectrum productive have created a confusing patchwork of
So the FCC wants to reorganize the band to make better use of the
spectrum. The current MDS and ITFS licensees have proposed a
restructuring plan which would, unsurprisingly, benefit the existing
licensees. The existing licensees would enjoy total flexibility and
would be allowed to reorganize themselves to offer mobile as well as
To its credit, the FCC has asked whether others could benefit from this
reorganization. Specifically, the FCC has proposed creating a band
dedicated exclusively to unlicensed use. NPRM 79-81. The FCC also
proposed extending the existing unlicensed rules (also known as “Part
15” rules, for their location in the FCC’s rules) to include the
2500-2690 range. 143-148.
The effect of either proposal on unlicensed access would be enormously
beneficial. Even if the FCC merely extended the Part 15 rules, it would
help overcome many congestion issues and help avoid interference with
other devices. Creating a significant band devoted exclusively for
unlicensed without the fear of interfering with a licensed “primary”
service would open the door to a whole new range of products and services.
At the same time, the FCC also proposed allocating the spectrum to
exclusive licensees. Worse, it proposed “auctioning” the right to a
Part 15-style underlay. Such an auction would defeat the value of
unlicensed and would set a bad precedent for future spectrum restructuring.
The New America Foundation/Media Access Project Comments
The New America Foundation (NAF) and the Media Access Project (MAP)
drafted and submitted comments that supported both the creation of a
primary unlicensed band and the extension of the Part 15 rules. The
NAF/MAP comments also contained other material relating to auctions and
other issues raised in the NPRM. Copies of the NAF/MAP comments are
available from both the NAF website (www.spectrumpolicy.org) or on the
MAP website (www.mediaaccess.org).
A number of parties joined the comments. Most importantly, the comments
were joined by wireless ISPs eager to see expansion of wireless access.
No other party in this proceeding filed in favor of expanding unlicensed
access. Many parties filed against the proposal.
While the FCC does not decide policies solely by counting noses, it does
look to see if there is interest in expanding unlicensed access in the
relevant band. At the moment, the record does not reflect support for
expanding unlicensed wireless access.
How You Can Help
Anyone can file comments at the FCC. Reply comments are due on October
23, 2003. But interested parties can continue to file comments using
the procedure outlined below.
Contrary to popular belief, the FCC really does read public comments and
really does care about them. Most important are comments filed that
provide either technical information or real world experiences that
underscore the value of unlicensed wireless access. In particular, if
you are a WISP, a WISP subscriber, or some other business user of
unlicensed access, the FCC will be very interested in your comments.
A Style Guide For Posting To The FCC
Be polite- The staff at the FCC are real people with human feelings.
They do not appreciate hearing that they are morons or losers or corrupt
servants of special interests. If you abuse them, they will disregard
your comments. That’s just human nature.
Explain yourself- Many of the people who will read your comments are not
engineers or are engineers unfamiliar with the specific issues you
describe. If you assume an audience generally familiar with the issues
but with no technical training, you will probably hit the right level.
At the same time, do include complex technical or economic information
where you have to. This is important in building the record. If you
have lengthy technical comments, try having a plain English summary at
the beginning followed by technical comments. Make sure you explain all
Be personal- The FCC needs to hear about real world experiences in the
field. Even if you are just a general supporter of unlicensed access
services such as wi-fi, try to make the comments personal.
In particular, if you are a business, discuss the economic impact of
unlicensed access and how you would benefit from expanding unlicensed
While there is no page limit (some filings are hundreds of pages long),
try to stick to essentials. A shorter document will be given
preferential treatment by staffers than a longer one that says the same
thing. This is simply human nature.
How To File Comments
The FCC will accept written comments in Word, WordPerfect, or PDF
format. You can also type in short comments directly to the FCC on its
comments webpage at:
http://gullfoss2.fcc.gov/prod/ecfs/upload_v2.cgi. In other words,
anyone with Internet access can file a comment just by going to the
FCC’s webpage and typing in the window provided (scroll down to the
bottom of the page).
If you write comments, you should include at the top the name of the
proceeding and the Docket No. You must also include in the written
comments the date of filing, your name, and an address where you can be
reached. You do not need to be a lawyer, or even a U.S. citizen, to
write or file comments before the FCC.
When you go to file your comments, the docket number should be entered
as 03-66 (ignore the “WT”). The FCC’s webpage is relatively
self-explanatory about what information is required and how to attach
any files. At the end of the process, you will receive a confirmation
from the FCC that your comments were filed. You may wish to print this
out and save it for your files.
You may view other comments in this proceeding by using the FCC’s
Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS) search function available at:
http://gullfoss2.fcc.gov/prod/ecfs/comsrch_v2.cgi Again, the relevant
docket Number is 03-66.
How To Stay Involved
NAF and MAP will continue to update their websites with new
information. The NAF website is http://www.spectrumpolicy.org. The MAP
website is http://www.mediaaccess.org. In addition, the Washington
Internet Project (http://www.cybertelecom.org) is a good resource for
FCC proceedings that relate to unlicensed access.
NYCwireless - http://www.nycwireless.net/
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