In a curious bit of timing, on the day after the NTIA released its Order setting out the process for providing consumers coupons to finance their purchase of converter boxes to allow their analog televisions to continue to receive a signal after the digital transition, a coalition of high-tech companies visited the FCC to promote the use of the television spectrum to provide a wireless broadband Internet service.  We wrote about the FCC proceeding to allow these uses, on a non-interference basis, here, when the FCC launched its "white spaces proceeding." 

The proposal by many of the leading high-tech companies, including Microsoft, Intel, Google and other computer manufacturers, would allow smart devices to operate in the television band to send and receive wireless Internet signals, without interfering with television users.  The NAB has expressed concerns about whether these devices could in fact operate without interference to television stations.  In a Washington Post story, it was reported that the companies provided the FCC with a prototype device for testing, and stated that the devices could be ready for consumers by 2009 – perfectly timed for the end of the digital television transition.

This is a proceeding that all television broadcasters should watch carefully.