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November 5, 2008

FCC approves unlicensed "white spaces" exploitation

Posted by David Hunter at 10:05 AM ET.

The USA’s Federal Communications Commission voted yesterday to allow unlicensed low-power use of "white spaces", the soon to be unused part of the radio frequency spectrum assign to analog TV. This had been requested by Google, Microsoft, and a group of other technological companies who envision it as the basis for national mobile broadband services. It was opposed by broadcasters and other parties who felt that unlicensed white space usage would interfere with their own spectrum usage.

So where’s the pony for Microsoft? Well, since Microsoft currently makes few devices itself, it seems mostly to be hiding in the general growth of the personal electronics industry that a white spaces "Wi-Fi on steroids" would enable. Per Microsoft’s Craig Mundie from before the FCC decision was made:

If the FCC votes in favor of the white spaces rule, Microsoft and other advocates will likely move to "make products as quickly as we possibly can."

He declined to say what those products might be. "There can’t really be a specific plan until there’s a specific ruling," Mundie said.

In a more general sense, however, Mundie speculated that white spaces will enable Microsoft to expand the reach of its Wi-Fi enabled products – from Windows-based laptops with Wi-Fi access to the Zune music sharing component and Windows Mobile.

Filed under Coopetition, Google, Microsoft, Technologies, White spaces

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