Despite protests from broadcasters, the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) next week will begin testing devices that will allow Internet service providers to utilize unused spectrum for wireless broadband service.
The commission on January 24 will kick off a four-to-six week lab test of equipment that will allow ISPs to access this spectrum, known as “white spaces.” That will be followed by an additional six-week field test period, the FCC said.
At issue is the transition from analog to digital TV signals. In an effort to free up spectrum for public safety use, Congress has ordered TV broadcasters to shift their signals from analog to digital by February 2009. When this happens, there will be open, unregulated spectrum between the digital channels, or white spaces, that companies like Google and Microsoft want to use for wireless broadband service.
Broadcasters insist that use of these white spaces for broadband service will result in reduced-quality digital TV viewing. Internet companies, meanwhile, view the use of the spectrum as a low-cost way of getting broadband service to underserved areas.
Read the full story in ‘PC Mag’ here.