FCC approves spectrum test that could spark 'Super WiFi' services

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Paving the way for the creation of "super WiFi" services, the FCC is allowing the public to test how unlicensed spectrum between TV stations could be used to deliver wireless broadband services.

The commission said Wednesday that it will allow Lake Mary, Fla.-based Spectrum Bridge to run a 45-day test of its national database of white spaces between TV channels, noting that it could enable "super WiFi" services. Broadcasters had fought the use of unlicensed spectrum, arguing that wireless services could interfere with broadcast signals.

While cable operators have also expressed concerns that wireless broadband services that use unlicensed spectrum could also interfere with the delivery of local broadcast channels that they distribute to subscribers, the FCC's move could also allow cable MSOs to test how they could use white spaces to deliver wireless broadband services to customers.

The public test of Spectrum Bridge's white-space database will kick off Monday, and is scheduled to end Nov. 2. The FCC may also allow other companies to test similar databases that identify unlicensed spectrum that could be used to deliver wireless broadband services, including Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), Neustar, Frequency Finder Inc. and Comsearch.

It's too early to gauge how the use of unlicensed devices that rely on white space spectrum could help broadband providers, or pose a competitive threat. But the FCC notes that unlicensed spectrum has already spawned innovative products and services, including WiFi, Bluetooth, cordless phones, baby monitors and smart utility meters.

For more:
- see FCC blog post about Spectrum Bridge test
- see the public notice about the database test
- Television Broadcast has this story
- arstechnica has this story
- Broadcasting & Cable has this story

Related articles:
White space opponents accuse Microsoft, Spectrum Bridge of violating experimental license rules
FCC close to finalizing TV white space rules