FCC makes 'white spaces' available for broadband

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Citing the potential to improve wire­less broadband access for consumers, the Federal Communications Commission voted last week to make the unused TV spectrum, commonly referred to as “white spaces,” available to the public.

The move relates to the FCC's mandate that television stations switch from broad­casting in analog to digital by February, meaning a large swatch of airwaves would be opened up for potential uses.

Tech companies such as Google and Intel, as well as telecom company Motor­ola, supported making white spaces avail­able. A coalition including broadcasters, legislators and even country music legend Dolly Parton opposed the notion, arguing that free public use of the airwaves would interfere with TV broadcasts and wireless microphones.

“Opening the white spaces will allow for the creation of a Wi-Fi on steroids,” said FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, noting the move has the potential to inspire an ever-widening array of new Internet-based products and services for consumers.

“Consumers across the country will have access to devices and services that they may have only dreamed about before,” Martin added.

The National Association of Broad­casters, which opposed the ruling, said it would continue the fight against opening up the white spaces to the public when Barack Obama takes office as president on January
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