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FCC Approves First Device to Run in the “White Spaces”

The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday approved the first device to run in the so-called “white spaces” between TV channels.

The product getting the okay is designed to offer broadband service, and is made by a company called Koos Technical Services. KTS has been among the companies heavily involved in working with the FCC to test white-spaces devices.

The white spaces, though not without their challenges, are seen by proponents as offering some of the same potential uses as the unlicensed regions used by Wi-Fi. Because they operate at a lower frequency range, they offer the potential to work over a longer range and perform better indoors.

“With today’s approval of the first TV white spaces database and device, we are taking an important step towards enabling a new wave of wireless innovation,” FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said in a statement. “Unleashing white spaces spectrum has the potential to exceed even the many billions of dollars in economic benefit from Wi-Fi, the last significant release of unlicensed spectrum, and drive private investment and job creation.”

Approval is limited, for now, to service in Wilmington, N.C. But it’s a first step for an area that has long been talked about as rich for new innovation.

The FCC said the approval will be expanded nationwide once the government finishes establishing procedures for those using wireless microphones (which also operate in these areas of spectrum) to coexist with devices running in the white spaces.

Regulators have been looking to open up the spectrum for some time, and have worked to address objections from the TV industry (and performers including Dolly Parton), who have worried about potential interference. The FCC voted last year to formally open the spectrum up to devices, after granting initial approval back in 2008.

(Image credit: iStockphoto | gaiamoments)

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