24 Sep 2010
US regulator FCC has approved a proposal to free up for unlicensed use the white space spectrum made vacant by the migration from analog to digital TV.
The FCC said it had taken steps to free up the first significant block of spectrum made available for public use in over 20 years.
However, following submissions from broadcasters worried about interference, it eliminated the requirement for devices using TV bands to be able to detect signals from TV stations. Devices can now instead rely on a database of vacant frequencies combined with geo-location methods to detect vacant spectrum.
Wireless microphones and other low-power auxiliary services have been given two dedicated channels to prevent them from interfering with TV signals.
FCC chairman Julius Genachowski said the move could generate more than $7 billion in economic value annually. He said the first time the FCC made unlicensed spectrum available, it led to the creation of Wi-Fi.
“We know what the first major application [for white space spectrum] will be: super Wi-Fi. Super Wi-Fi is what it sounds like: Wi-Fi, but with longer range, faster speeds, and more reliable connections,” he said.
Other applications such as telemedicine, smart grid technologies and “smart city” services such as traffic and water quality monitoring were being trialed, he added.