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Title: FCC Opens Unused TV Airwaves to High-Speed Broadband (+ Cell phone location tracking)
Source: The New York Times
URL Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/24/business/24fcc.html?src=busln
Published: Sep 23, 2010
Post Date: 2010-09-23 18:23:06 by Hondo68
Keywords: Super Wi-Fi, Broadband, Wireless
Views: 2368
Comments: 1

WASHINGTON — The Federal Communications Commission approved a proposal on Thursday that will open vast amounts of unused broadcast television airwaves for high-speed wireless broadband networks and other unlicensed applications.

The newly available airwaves, which were freed up by the conversion of television signals from analog to digital, constitute the first significant block of spectrum made available for unlicensed use by the F.C.C. in 20 years.

It was a victory that did not come easily, or quickly, however. The F.C.C. first approved a similar measure in 2008, but objections to the technical requirements for unlicensed devices drew objections from 17 companies or groups on both sides of the issue, forcing the commission to redraft its proposal. While computer and Internet companies like Google, Microsoft and Dell favored the idea, television broadcasters worried about possible interference problems.

The new order eliminates a requirement that devices scan the airwaves for available signals. Rather, they can rely on a database of digital signals, updated daily, for use in locating an available channel on which to transmit.

The order also contains provisions that seek to guarantee that wireless microphones have adequate space to operate without interference.

Supporters of the measure hope to see the airwaves used for stronger and faster wireless networks — known as “Super Wi-Fi” because of the signals’ ability to pass more easily through obstacles — and for use in providing Internet access to rural areas.

“Today’s order finally sets the stage for the next generation of wireless technologies to emerge, and is an important victory for Internet users across the country,” Richard Whitt, telecommunications and media counsel in Google’s Washington office, said in a posting on the company’s public policy blog.

Though unlicensed airwaves have been used for decades in applications like garage-door openers, cordless phones and, most recently, Wi-Fi networks, the newly available signals are stronger and therefore offer greater opportunities for engineers and entrepreneurs, supporters say.

But potential problems abound. Manymany urban areas, including New York, have so many operating broadcast TV stations that unused space is relatively rare. Broadcasters objected to some of the F.C.C.’s proposals, fearing that unlicensed devices would interfere with their station signals.

Michael J. Copps, an F.C.C. commissioner who has been a longtime advocate of freeing up the unlicensed airwaves, known as “white space,” said that he expects technology companies would now find ways to overcome those obstacles.

“One of the great lessons that I quickly learned here at the F.C.C. is the power of technology to turn scarcity into abundance,” Mr. Coppos said. “I look forward to seeing new devices widely available in consumer markets next year.”

The F.C.C. also approved changes to the E-Rate program, which provides federal funding to pay for Internet connections at schools and libraries. The new rules will allow schools and libraries to set up Internet connections that use the currently dormant fiber optic lines that are already in place in many communities, giving users more options and theoretically bringing down the cost of Internet service.

The new E-Rate rules also will allow schools to provide Internet access to their local communities after students go home in the evenings, further expanding broadband availability. The F.C.C. also voted in favor of an E-Rate pilot program to explore off-campus wireless Internet connections for mobile learning devices, a practice that Julius Genachowski, the F.C.C. chairman, said will open the way to digital textbooks.

The commission also approved measures that it believes will help to improve the ability of emergency call centers to better locate people who call 911 from wireless phones.

Poster Comment:

locate people.... wireless phones

All praise hObama, big brother is watching.

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#1. To: hondo68 (#0)

locate people.... wireless phones

Nothing new here. Most people don't seem to care.

Skip Intro  posted on  2010-09-23   19:36:44 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  

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