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'White Space' Airwaves Opened for Future Cellular and Wi-Fi Enhancements

Bloomberg reports that the U.S. Federal Communications Commission has voted to open up unused portions of the television broadcast frequency spectrum, known as white spaces, for unlicensed uses, paving the way for the development of technologies such as cellular communications and broad-range Wi-Fi networks to take advantage of the frequencies.

The radio waves travel in the spectrum between television channels known as white spaces, and like TV signals they carry far and penetrate walls. Uses may include wireless Internet connections, remote monitoring of industrial systems such as power plants, and taking over some mobile-phone traffic to ease sluggishness for users of devices such as Apple Inc.'s iPhone.

PC World takes a look at the potential for white space usage for Wi-Fi networks, calling the possibilities "Wi-Fi on steroids".

Compared to standard wireless networks today that have a range of about a football field--assuming no obstacles are obstructing the signal, the white space networking is like Wi-Fi on steroids. Like television signals, the white space networks will have a range of several miles and can travel through walls.

Many observers are optimistic that the possibility for usage of the television frequencies without requiring FCC licenses will stimulate significant innovation in new technologies for wireless access. Several companies, including Microsoft and Google, have already embraced the new spectrum availability and are quickly pushing forward to deliver new options for wireless data access, beginning with test projects on their own campuses.