updated 03:30 pm EDT, Fri October 10, 2008
FCC on White Space Soon
The US Federal Communications Commission is expected to soon approve a new generation of unlicensed wireless devices, according to an update on Friday. A report due as early as the same day should see the government body issue a testing report which concludes that the use of "white space," or the frequencies between licensed parts of the wireless spectrum, is safe enough to use for unlicensed technology such as wide-area Internet access.
Google, Microsoft and other technology firms have backed the measure as a way of making Internet access available in very dense downtown areas as well as rural locations, either of which is often difficult to support with wired access. The radio frequencies to be used are relatively low-wavelength and so have a longer range as well as better penetration indoors.
If cleared by the FCC, white space could be used on a practical level as early as February, when analog over-the-air TV broadcasts end and the frequencies used by white space open up. The organization is reportedly poised to back the technology in part due to its desire to have a real-world test of the technology.
Opponents of the new approach primarily include members of the National Association of Broadcasters as well as other TV and radio stations, many of whom claim that using the white space will cause interference with services on neighboring airwaves.