White Spaces Officially Cleared For Wireless BroadbandBy: Chris Crum - November 5, 2008
A big story flew somewhat under the radar yesterday as the Election was at the forefront of minds not only all across the America, but around the world. The FCC has approved the use of the unused airwaves between broadcast TV channels, otherwise known as "white spaces" for public wireless broadband service.
This is huge news for tech companies and particularly Google, who has been backing this concept. A post from Google Co-founder Larry Page on the Google Public Policy Blog says:
The FCC has been looking at this issue carefully for the last six years. Google has worked hard on this matter with other tech companies and public interest groups because we think that this spectrum will help put better and faster Internet connections in the hands of the public. We also look forward to working with the FCC to finalize the method used to compute power levels of empty channels adjacent to TV channels (we have a number of public filings before the commission in this area and it is a vital issue in urban areas).
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.
News of the FCC’s support of this has been around for a while now, but having it formally approved should allow everyone involved to breathe a sigh of relief. The concept has been backed by both the Republican and Democratic parties.