US regulator clears path for ‘super Wi-Fi’

US consumers will have access to a new range of “super Wi-Fi” wireless services next year after the Federal Communications Commission removed the final obstacle to the commercial use of the so-called “white spaces” of unused spectrum between broadcast TV channels.

“With today’s approval of the first TV white spaces database and device, we are taking an important step towards enabling a new wave of wireless innovation,” said Julius Genachowski, the FCC chairman, in a statement. “Unleashing white spaces spectrum has the potential to exceed even the many billions of dollars in economic benefit from Wi-Fi, the last significant release of unlicensed spectrum, and drive private investment and job creation.”

The white spaces database that has been approved by the FCC’s technology office has been developed by Spectrum Bridge and is designed to ensures that devices using the new spectrum do not interfere with adjacent TV broadcasts.

At the same time, the FCC also approved a broadband transmitter component from Koos Technical Services that will be built into white spaces equipment, initially for use in the Wilmington, North Carolina area where the FCC has been conducting white spaces tests.

The launch of commercial white spaces services marks a victory for big technology companies including Microsoft and Google, together with consumer groups that have pushed hard for several years for the FCC to make the spectrum available.

TV stations and wireless microphone makers had raised concerns about possible interference from the new services. The database and other technical “fixes” are designed to address these concerns.

Spectrum Bridge has also been working with regulators in other countries, including the UK, to win approval for the new services.

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