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BizReport : Law & Regulation : November 06, 2008

FCC votes to allow white spaces

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has voted to allow unlicensed television spectrum, also known as 'the white spaces', to be opened for use by technology companies. The white spaces are the spaces between actual broadcast channels; this vote could open the competition in new device creation to connect the Internet to the spectrum.

by Kristina Knight

The FCC Voted 4-1; the no vote was a partial dissent.

"Opening the white spaces will allow for creation of a wifi on steroids," said Kevin Martin, FCC Chairman. "Consumers across the country will have access to devices and services that they may have only dreamed about before."

There has been years of debate leading up to this vote. Many dissenters have said that opening the spectrum would interfere with existing wireless devices and broadcast industries. One of the biggest dissenters was the National Association of Broadcasters.

However, technology companies such as Google and Microsoft led the charge to open the white spaces. Proponents of the move said it would open more competition and make pricing more fair for consumers.

The FCC says that new devices for use on the white spaces will not interfere with existing users; the agency says they will require all new devices to have geolocation and database access or spectrum sensing access to ensure that interference does not occur.

Tags: FCC, white spaces

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