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.