Thursday, December 15, 2011

Congress Mulling Restrictions on Additional Unlicensed Spectrum

Stacey Higginbotham reporting … Congress Wants to Kill Super Wi-Fi and White Spaces, Too:

The spectrum bill that passed the House last night will make any technologist weep. I know the tech community is upset over the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), but this bill represents a somewhat geekier threat–killing more unlicensed spectrum. So Silicon Valley may want to get active over this one too. The House version of the bill will ensure that none of the airwaves auctioned off from the digital TV band will be used for unlicensed wireless, where services such as Wi-Fi or white spaces broadband exist.

Free airwaves are good for innovation.

Unlicensed spectrum are the free airwaves that any company can use as long as the it meets certain FCC guidelines. The 2.4 gigahertz and 5 gigahertz bands that Wi-Fi currently works in are unlicensed, as are the 900 Mhz bands used by baby monitors and cordless phones. But under the bill passed last night, none of the megahertz the government gets back from TV broadcasters will be set aside for such use, and instead would end up getting auctioned off to licensed users, such as a network operator.

That’s bad for a variety of reasons, specifically because some of those bands are supposed to be used for delivering Super Wi-Fi or white spaces broadband.

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