September 23rd, 2010 | Published in Google Public Policy
This morning the Federal Communications Commission adopted final technical rules related to white spaces – the empty airwaves between broadcast TV channels – that we believe will pave the way for “Wi-Fi on steroids.”
For several years now, the tech industry, the public interest community, and entrepreneurs have been clamoring for the green light to begin innovating and building new products for these airwaves on an unlicensed basis. 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.
Chairman Genachowski and his fellow Commissioners deserve ample credit for adopting rules that ultimately will put better and faster wireless broadband connections in the hands of the public. We’re glad to see that the FCC appears to have rejected calls to enact burdensome and unnecessary constraints that would have made it more difficult to deploy useful technologies on these airwaves. Instead, the Commission has put forward common-sense rules that will help encourage innovation, while fully safeguarding incumbent signals from interference.
What’s next on TV white spaces? We’re hopeful the FCC soon will name one or more administrators of the geolocation database, and establish the ground rules for its operation. Once the database is up and running, new white spaces devices and tools can begin to roll out to consumers.
Nonetheless, this important step should be viewed as the beginning, and not the end, of crafting forward-looking spectrum policy for our country. From creating a comprehensive spectrum inventory, to investigating incentive auctions for TV broadcast spectrum, to revisiting the efficacy of spectrum sensing technologies, these are exciting times for folks to get involved in developing more efficient and effective policies to govern our nation’s airwaves.