FCC OKs use of white spaces to deliver broadband

Big news for makers out there today, the FCC OK’ed the use of white spaces to deliver broadband – this might mean a whole new class of devices soon, just as Wi-Fi took off we’ll likely see even more wireless devices flourish along with super-fast broadband speeds…

The Federal Communications Commission voted Tuesday to open up unused, unlicensed portions of the television airwaves known as “white spaces” to deliver wireless broadband service.

The vote is a big victory for public interest groups and technology companies such as Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp. that say white spaces could be used to bring broadband to rural America and other underserved parts of the country.

“White spaces are the blank pages on which we which we will write our broadband future,” said Jonathan Adelstein, one of two Democrats on the five-member commission. Adelstein added that white spaces could represent a “third channel” to reach consumers beyond the telephone and cable networks that represent the primary competition in today’s broadband market.

The vote came over the objections of the nation’s big TV broadcasters, which argue that using the fallow spectrum to deliver wireless Internet access could disrupt their over-the-air signals. Manufacturers and users of wireless microphones — including sports leagues, church leaders and performers of all stripes — have also raised concerns about interference.

The next step for the main opponent, the National Association of Broadcasters, could be a lawsuit to stop the FCC plan from taking effect. NAB had no immediate comment.

Four commissioners voted to approve the plan with one commissioner — Republican Deborah Tate — dissenting in part. Among her concerns, Tate raised questions about how potential interference problems would be handled.

Last month, a technical report by FCC engineers concluded that interference could be eliminated with the use of wireless transmitter devices that rely on spectrum-sensing and “geolocation” technologies to detect nearby broadcast signals.

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