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FCC's Kevin Martin Supports Freeing White Spaces

Posted by: Olga Kharif on October 15, 2008

The push by the likes of Google to make a bunch of airwaves available for free, unlicensed use gained additional momentum today. The Federal Communications Commission is preparing to release its report on these airwaves, called white spaces, in early November. Among other things, the report will delve into the nitty-gritty of whether unlicensed use will lead to interference with other technologies, such as TV broadcasts.

But on Oct. 15, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin announced his support for using white spaces, which are airwaves that will be freed up in the upcoming digital TV transition, for unlicensed use, similar to Wi-Fi. He said he is “hoping to take advantage of utilizing these airwaves for broadband services to allow for unlicensed technologies and new innovations in that space.” Martin has been a long-time proponent of unlicensed use of white spaces, but these latest comments could indicate that interference issues examined in the report have been addressed.

That said, it’s too early for free white spaces proponents to uncork champagne. The FCC has very little time to push this proposal through before its term ends. And telcos like T-Mobile USA are mounting pressure to make the spectrum available for sale, instead. As of today, though, I’d say the chances are better than 50-50.

Reader Comments


October 16, 2008 1:48 AM

I was very enamored by Nicola Tesla's "use" of so called "free white spaces" when he was developing wireless transmission of energy. Hmmm; does this mean the public will actually be able to broadcast whatever, whenever, to whoever might want to listen/use/etc.?


November 6, 2008 9:53 PM


There are already unlicensed broadcast spaces available. They are used by cordless phones, wi-fi, FRM Walkie-talkies, etc. This is just adding more space, but it's not "game changing". You can only broadcast at low power, so don't think everyone can make their own TV station. You can use google video or something if you want to "broadcast" to everyone.

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Bloomberg Businessweek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, and Douglas MacMillan, dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.



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