FCC colors in white spaces, opens spectrum for 'super WiFi'

As expected, the FCC opened up the unused spectrum between broadcast channels--commonly known as white spaces--for high-speed broadband and what some are calling "super WiFi." The spectrum will be most available in rural and suburban areas where there are fewer TV stations and more spectrum. Larger cities such as New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, with already crowded airwaves, are expected to feel less impact, although super WiFi, with its ability to penetrate buildings, is an attractive technology there.

The commission's decision was made over broadcaster protests that using that spectrum--freed up as part of the analog-to-digital transition--might interfere with their signals.

FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell went so far as to suggest that using white spaces could negate the need for net neutrality broadband regulations because super WiFi devices running in the new spectrum will offer a "competitive alternative to existing broadband providers."

McDowell wasn't the only one to suggest there's no need for net neutrality, as pushed forward by Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski. A survey by Broadband for America said that 57 percent of likely U.S. voters don't support Internet regulation. Of course the survey, like all surveys, must be taken with a beachload of sand: Broadband for America members include AT&T (NYSE: T) and Verizon (NYSE: VZ).

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