FCC okays white space access in last minute 5-0 vote

In a unanimous decision late Tuesday, the FCC gave its approval to public access to the "white spaces" of the wireless spectrum, after the tally was pushed back by an earlier vote today in favor of the $28.1 billion Verizon-Alltel merger.

A 5-0 vote by the Federal Communications Commission today in favor of opening up the white spaces followed months of lobbying by Google, Microsoft, and other Wireless Industry Association (WIA) members on behalf of the measure and by the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) against it.

"The full potential of white space technology has yet to be imagined, but with today's decision the FCC has given American's greatest innovators the resources they need to make it a reality for American consumers and our economy," reads the reaction today from Jake Ward, a WIA spokesperson.

The NAB, on the other hand, has claimed that mobile equipment operating in the white spaces of the spectrum would interfere with the operation of wireless microphones and other TV equipment.

In late October, after the NAB sent out a statement strongly critical of an FCC report on white spaces test results, eight US legislators joined the broadcasters in calling on the FCC to delay today's scheduled vote until a period of public comment could be held.

But as previously reported in BetaNews, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates and Craig Mundie, Microsoft's chief research and strategy officer, countered by calling FCC commissioners by phone to present their position on the FCC test results and which technology approaches can be used to effectively prevent wireless interference in the white spaces.

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