FCC announces public testing of TV white spaces

The Federal Communications Commission announced Wednesday that it has started its first test of a white spaces database, examining how to best take advantage of the unused spectrum between digital television channels.

“Unleashing white spaces spectrum will enable a new wave of wireless innovation,” said FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski in a statement. “It has the potential to exceed the billions of dollars in economic benefit from WiFi, the last significant release of unlicensed spectrum, and drive private investment and job creation.”

The FCC moved to approve the use of white spaces a year ago this month, hoping to repeat a previous release of airwaves that brought the public a boom of innovation, including new baby monitors and an explosion of WiFi hot spots. This batch of waves has been dubbed “Super WiFi,” and can connect over longer distances and penetrate concrete walls.

The agency’s first testing database trial will go live on Sept. 19 and last for 45 days, until Nov. 2.

The move was hailed by public interest group Public Knowledge, which said that the trial is “an important first step to a new era of communications and other technologies.”

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.

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