FCC Frees White Space Spectrum for Wireless Broadband Service - White Space Supporters
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Technology companies, such as Google and Microsoft, greatly supported the use of white spaces because they believe the spectrum can be used to help deliver new wireless broadband services to consumers. As a group, the technology industry had also filed comments with the FCC as a response to the allegations made by the Sports Technology Alliance and members of Congress, among others.
The White Spaces Coalition, which represented the technology companies, said in a petition filed weeks before the FCC ruling, that white-space critics have had more than enough opportunity to comment on the issue. According to the petition, studies as to whether or not there would be interference with broadcast TV channels went on for more than four years, with multiple notice and comment periods, multiple rounds of lab and field testing and over 30,000 filings by the public.
Heavy-hitter Richard Whitt, Washington Telecom and Media Counsel for Google, wrote a blog urging people to write to the FCC to make sure the vote occurred on November 4. Whitt called the petitions to the FCC by those in opposition to the freeing up of the white space merely stall tactics used to derail the technology before the rules of the road were even written. "The enormous promise of white spaces is simply too great to get bogged down in politics," Whitt said. "This vote can transform the way we connect to the Internet. The time for study and talk is over."
What does it mean for consumers?
Now that the vote has passed and the white spaces have been freed up, what does that mean for the average consumer? According to Google and other technology companies, it will put better, faster Internet connections in the hands of the public. Some have said that the new white space will act as “Wi-Fi on steroids” because the spectrum signals have a much longer range than today’s Wi-Fi technology, and broadband access can be spread using fewer base stations, resulting in better coverage at a much lower cost.
During the vote on November 4, the FCC also decided to adopt the already successful, yet unlicensed model used for Wi-Fi, which has resulted in a projected 1 billion Wi-Fi chips being produced this year. According to some, now that the FCC has set the rules for the unlicensed using the white spaces, new companies are sure to see similar growth in products which take advantage of the new spectrum.
The FCC, which has been examining how the use of white space may disrupt broadcast signals for over four years, finished testing several proof-of-concept devices this past summer to see if companies can develop products that use buffer spectrum between licensed broadcast channels. The commission's Office of Engineering Technology (OET) found that sensing technology alone was not 100 percent effective in preventing interference, but when coupled with geolocation technology, the interference was greatly reduced.
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