In a unanimous vote, all five FCC Commissioners have approved rules opening up the so-called whitespace
between television channels for use in what the commission has dubbed "super Wi-Fi." The newly available spectrum offers greater range and wall penetration than current Wi-Fi technology
, and provides plenty of room for boosting speeds, as well. Rules will require that devices take advantage of the whitespace to connect to a location-aware database in order to ensure that the radios don't interfere with television broadcasts or wireless microphone systems. But a demand for spectrum sensing (as a secondary tool for avoiding interference) has been dropped after technology companies complained that such devices would be difficult and expensive to build.
The vote is a big step forward, and should lead to new innovations in wireless technology, but the march towards super Wi-Fi isn't over yet
. The FCC must still name administrators to run the database and draft rules for its governance. Thankfully, companies have been tinkering with the tech in their labs for years, so once all the kinks are ironed out, it shouldn't be long before consumers can take advantage.