At the FCC meeting held on Election Day, the Commission approved the operation of "white spaces" devices in the TV spectrum. These would be mobile, unlicensed devices that would operate on TV channels that are not used in a particular location. Many Internet users have hailed the expansion of wireless Internet opportunities that they believe that this decision will bring. While the FCC promised that these devices would protect television operations and other current uses of the TV Band, many other groups have reacted to the decision far more skeptically. All in all, we have probably not heard the end of this debate.
The full text of the FCC Order has not yet been released but, from the Public Notice summarizing the action (which came late in the day, after a several hour delay in the start of the FCC meeting), the FCC appears to have made some concessions to the broadcasters who were objecting that the tests of the white spaces devices were not able to adequately sense the presence of television signals in a way that would protect those stations. So, to protect television signals, the FCC ordered that, in addition to sensing the existence of television signals, the white spaces devices would also have to have geo-location abilities, which would check the location of the device and compare it to a database of television stations and prevent the device from operating on channels that the database shows to be occupied. Even with this capacity, organizations representing television stations do not believe that this compromise is sufficient to protect those stations.Continue Reading FCC Approves White Spaces Devices in TV Band – While Some Hail a Boon to Wireless Internet, Others Say Not So Fast