FCC Approves Unlicensed White Space Use
By Dmitriy Tishyevich – Edited by Miriam Weiler
Action by the Federal Communications Commission, by Second Report and Order (FCC 08-260)
On November 4, the Federal Communications Commission unanimously approved the use of unlicensed wireless devices that operate in “white spaces,” the unused spectrum between licensed broadcast television channels that can be used to provide broadband connectivity and other services similar to Wi-fi. The Commission’s approval extends to all WSDs that include a geolocation capability and a spectrum-sensing technology that will allow the device to determine what spectrum may be accessed at the particular location.
The decision comes after four years of debate, pitting an alliance of technology companies against parts of the entertainment industry. Companies such as Microsoft, Google, and Motorola urged the Commission to open the channels for general usage. A coalition comprised of broadcasters, theaters, sports franchises and other cell phone operators opposed the decision, arguing that white space devices (WSDs) operating within the unlicensed spectrum will cause interference in the neighboring licensed channels.
The New York Times, the BBC and ars techinca provide a summary of the Commission’s order. Larry Page, co-founder of Google and proponent of opening up white spaces, comments on the Commission’s approval. Andrew Seybold of FierceWireless, the wireless industry’s daily monitor, warns that despite the precautions undertaken by the Commission, the new devices will likely cause interference with current services. TechCrunch suggests that Google’s push for open use of white spaces is part of its strategy to create more connection points for mobile devices, including those powered by Android, the Google mobile device platform. (more…)