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The FCC approves ‘Wi-Fi on steroids’
Will the airwaves’ “white spaces” revolutionize the Internet?
W

hile the U.S. was voting Tuesday, said Olga Kharif in BusinessWeek online, the Federal Communications Commission “was making its own momentous decision.” After six years of public scrutiny, the FCC voted to open up “the biggest-ever swath of airwaves to be used by the public for cheap high-speed wireless Internet access.” The newly free “white spaces” will open after TV broadcasters switch from analog to digital in February.

The decision is “a big victory for Google,” which says the spectrum will lead to “Wi-Fi on steroids,” said Sam Gustin in Portfolio online. Google, and public interest groups, lobbied for the decision because it should expand the availability of broadband Internet across the nation. But Google also hopes to use it for its Android cellphone platform.

Google’s a winner, and so are companies like Intel, Motorola, and Cisco, said Larry Dignan in ZDNet. Consumers win, too—this will bring new services and devices, and bring us “closer to always-on wireless broadband access.” The losers? Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and “the FCC coffers,” as giving away this spectrum devalues future spectrum auctions.

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