FCC Favors Using White Space For Wireless Broadband
In a report issued this week, the FCC said it appeared that devices for wireless broadband can be operated on white spaces without interfering with other signals, provided that the devices use spectrum sensing and geo-location techniques.
"At this juncture, we believe that the burden of "proof of concept" has been met," the FCC stated in the introduction to its 149-page report. "We are satisfied that spectrum sensing in combination with geo-location and database access techniques can be used to authorize equipment today under appropriate technical standards."
Digital rights groups like Free Press and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, as well as tech companies like Google and Microsoft, have urged the FCC to allow the radio airwaves to be used for broadband access. They argue that using white spaces for Web access will increase the availability of broadband. A big portion of the radio airwave spectrum will be available in February, when TV stations stop broadcasting on analog airwaves.
Because the airwaves used for television transmit through walls, around corners and over large swaths of space, it should be easier for companies to blanket an area with wireless broadband via white spaces than using the less powerful Wi-Fi spectrum.
But television broadcasters oppose the plan, saying that using the white spaces for wireless computing could interfere with TV signals.
Late Thursday, the National Association of Broadcasters said in a statement that the FCC appeared to have misinterpreted the results of field tests. The organization said that testing actually revealed that "spectrum sensing is not a reliable technique."
Current users of wireless microphones, including Broadway theaters and churches, have also opposed the plan. The groups fear that even with spectrum sensing and geo-location technology, their signals will face interference.
The FCC is slated to vote on the matter on Nov. 4.