Back in 2008, when the Federal Communications Commission voted to make white spaces available for mobile broadband, TV broadcasters were among the biggest naysayers.
They argued that it might wreak havoc with TV transmissions to allow white spaces -- or the radio airwaves no longer used by television broadcasters -- to be used for WiFi. Television broadcasters weren't the only ones to criticize the concept of using white spaces for mobile broadband; Broadway theaters also opposed the initiative, as did some entertainers -- including, famously, Dolly Parton.
The National Association of Broadcasters went so far as to sue the FCC in hopes of stopping the white-spaces plan. This week, however, the organization filed a motion seeking to withdraw its lawsuit. The NAB said in court papers that it was no longer necessary to pursue a court challenge, given that FCC recently issued an opinion that addressed some key concerns.
White spaces can transmit through walls, around corners and over large swaths of space. For that reason, the spectrum potentially can can support powerful wireless broadband networks -- what former FCC Chairman Kevin Martin called "WiFi on steroids."
Advocacy group Public Knowledge, which has long supported freeing the white spaces for mobile broadband, cheered news that the NAB wanted to withdraw its legal challenge. "Assuming the court grants the motion, the last potential legal obstacle to the use of this valuable unlicensed spectrum will be removed and the innovations that are just beginning can continue to proceed with new confidence," Harold Feld, legal director of the group, said in a statement.