FCC Vote Could Create
Citywide Wi-Fi Service
By Joseph Palenchar On Oct 4 2010 - 4:01am
— Wide-area “Super WiFi” hot spots
could be one of the results of a Federal Communications
Commission (FCC) vote to open up unused “white spaces”
in the TV band for unlicensed uses.
Because of the propagation characteristics of the spectrum,
which is below 1GHz, Super Wi-Fi signals would
travel longer distances and at faster speeds than traditional
2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi and also more easily travel
through walls, the FCC said in voting for the second time
in as many years to redeploy the spectrum. The propagation
characteristics mean large markets could be covered
by only a handful of base stations.
The spectrum could also be used to deliver low-cost wireless
broadband to rural and poor areas, transmit traffic videos,
build electric-utility smart grids, create faster home networks,
and create services that the FCC said it couldn’t envision.
Although the FCC voted in November 2008 to free
up white spaces for unlicensed use, opposition by TV
broadcasters, users of wireless microphones, and other
constituencies sent the FCC back to the drawing boards
to revise rules that it originally developed to prevent interference
with over-the-air TV reception and with wireless
microphones. The microphones are commonly used by
TV news reporters, sports arenas, Broadway theaters,
churches and schools.
With the new vote, the FCC also eliminated its previous
requirement that two types of sensing technologies be included
in unlicensed devices to find spectrum not in use.
The change was in response to complaints that the twotechnology
requirement would slow the launch of whitespace
The FCC is now requiring only one technology, which is
GPS geo-location combined with an as-yet undeveloped
database of locations of TV stations, cable-operator head
ends, wireless-mike venues and other current white-space
users. The database will tell a new white-space device
what spectrum it can use in its current location.