FCC Move to Release 'White Spaces' has Tech Firms Dreaming of Wireless Boom

Mon, 09/13/2010 - 10:25am
Cecilia Kang, Washington Post,

Washington Post,

Entire towns linked to the Web as giant hot spots with seamless wireless connections. Internet-connected refrigerators that monitor when it's time to get more milk and eggs.

High-tech firms and engineers are dreaming that the Federal Communication Commission's move to release "white spaces," or unused television channels, later this month will unleash another boom of mobile innovation.

Two decades ago, the FCC released similar airwaves to the public, but no one thought doing so would have much impact for consumers. They were wrong: That band of short-range radio waves spawned baby monitors, garage-door openers and thousands of WiFi hot spots at Starbucks, New York's Times Square and homes across the nation.

Now, the FCC is betting that another batch of unlicensed and better-quality airwaves will enable engineers to turn those frequencies into WiFi networks on steroids. The airwaves would connect longer distances and penetrate through concrete walls - allowing for stronger connections.

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