White spaces, unused television spectrum--and a cynic could make a case that's almost everything going over the air these days--is like data Superman: It can carry signals over long distances, leap tall buildings in a single bound, and, even better, penetrate those buildings. It's why companies like Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) and Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) have been pushing the FCC to use it for WiFi.
Now comes word that the FCC is going to do just that via a Sept. 23 vote that would create a rule to encourage "opportunities for investment and innovation in advanced WiFi technologies and a variety of broadband services."
When it happens, Rice University researchers will be on hand to see how things work. The Texas educational facility has won a $1.8 million federal grant to work with Houston non-profit Technology For All and add white space to the wide spectrum WiFi network they've been operating in a working-class Houston neighborhood since 2004.
Less altruistically, of course, this could all be welcome news for cable operators who are expanding their TV Everywhere services outside the home with any variety of wireless offerings, especially WiFi.
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