The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has confirmed that it intends to free up vacant TV airwaves – known as ‘white spaces’ – in order to introduce a variety of new technologies, including so-called ‘super Wi-Fi’. This ‘white space’ represents the first significant block of spectrum that has been made available for unlicensed use in over 20 years. TV white space spectrum is considered prime ‘real estate’ by the FCC because its signals travel well, making it perfectly suited for mobile wireless devices. According to the FCC these frequencies can cover an area that is 16 times greater than existing Wi-Fi signals. The National Broadband Plan has recommended that the FCC completes the liberalisation of the white spaces as soon as possible.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski commented: ‘We know from experience that unlicensed spectrum can trigger unexpected but hugely beneficial innovation. For example, years ago, there was a band of low-quality spectrum that was lying fallow. Nobody could figure out what to do with this so-called ‘junk band,’ so the FCC decided to free it up as unlicensed spectrum. The result was a wave of new technologies – baby monitors, cordless phones, and eventually a real game changer: Wi-Fi. Today, Wi-Fi is a multi-billion industry and an essential part of the mobile ecosystem’.