Michael Lerner

Thursday - Sep 30, 2010

Wifi logoIf you want anytime/anywhere Net access, then a recent decision by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission is really good news. After two years of debate, the commissioners have agreed unanimously to allow unused TV channels to be allocated for broadband. According to FCC chairman Julius Genachowski, “My hope and expectation is that it will lead to significant innovation and investment.” It may signal a new digital revolution.

By broadcasting broadband signals in the “white spaces” of the TV spectrum, signal strength increases dramatically. Super WiFi can cover an area 16 times larger than it currently does, potentially turning entire cities into giant hot spots. Stronger signals penetrate buildings better, even reaching underground into subways.

For rural residents it can mean receiving unprecedented broadband access. The first public white spaces network launched last year in Claudville, Viriginia. As a technology testbed, 75% of the town now has broadband access for the first time, a boon for students and businesses. “This technology should be in every rural community. We talk about no child left behind. Well, this is one of the ways of putting feet to that,” says Pastor Jerry Whitlow, who runs the local school. Now that the FCC has finally made a decision, Pastor Whitlow’s wish may come true.