As anticipated, the FCC has voted to approve the use of wireless airwaves between TV channels — so-called “white spaces” — for Internet devices.
The ruling is a victory for companies like Google (GOOG), Motorola (MOT), and Microsoft (MSFT), who want to be able to access the airwaves for Internet gadgets and services. Even better: They’ll be able to do so on an “unlicensed” basis, meaning they won’t have to spend money on wireless spectrum licenses — like the wireless industry spent $19 billion on this year.
“Today, the FCC is making both a small step and a giant leap,” FCC commissioner Robert McDowell reportedly said. “It is a prudent and cautious order.”
This spectrum allows devices to penetrate walls, etc. This has the ability to jump-start broadband. Consumers will have access to devices they have only dreamed about. Small communications networks will come into being, he said.
Likewise, it’s probably bad news for wireless companies like AT&T (T), Verizon (VZ), and Sprint (S), which should get new competition. (Unless they act fast and dominate that part of the telecom industry, too.)
Don’t expect any revolutionary new gadgets or services using the airwaves any time soon: We anticipate lots more testing ahead — the FCC will have to carefully test and approve devices so they don’t interfere with TV broadcasts, wireless microphones, etc. And then gadget and Internet companies will need to figure out what, exactly is going to use the new airwaves, business models for who will offer Internet access, how much it’ll cost, etc.
But either way, a victory for consumers, who could use more choices for Internet access.
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