The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) today approved, in a 5-0 unanimous vote, the plan to open up unused, unlicensed portions of TV white space spectrum for wireless applications and devices. However, to prevent interference, FCC has also placed some "rigorous certification process" which device offered by a technology company for use on the white spaces will have to go through.
Companies including Google, Microsoft, Intel, Motorola and others have been pressing the FCC to allow the unlicensed use of the white spaces, which they urged will play a significant role in the expansion of the Internet in the US. But the companies have been facing a wide array of opponents, including the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), as well as the largest U.S. television networks and telecom companies including Sprint Nextel Corp. and T-Mobile USA.
"As an engineer, I was also really gratified to see that the FCC decided to put science over politics," wrote Google co-founder, Larry Page in blog post today. "For years the broadcasting lobby and others have tried to spread fear and confusion about this technology, rather than allow the FCC's engineers to simply do their work." Page further explains:
I've always thought that there are a lot of really incredible things that engineers and entrepreneurs can do with this spectrum. 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.
The unanimous FCC vote "ushers in a new era of wireless broadband innovation," says Craig Mundie, Microsoft's chief research and strategy officer. "We look forward to playing our part in helping to realize the wireless broadband potential of the white spaces."
Official FCC Press Release (FCC - 10/4/2008)
Tech firms win victory with FCC 'white spaces' vote (MarketWatch - 10/4/2008)
A vote for broadband in the "white spaces" (Larry Page, Google - 10/4/2008)
FCC opens free 'white space' spectrum (CNet - 10/4/2008)
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