Friday, February 17, 2012

Congress passes bill opening up TV spectrum to next-gen WiFi networks

                                                           [Tower photo via Shutterstock] 

It may seem a bit odd to see tech industry groups like the CTIA and CEA praising the passage of the Temporary Payroll Tax Cut Continuation Act of 2011 by Congress, but that rather mundane-sounding bill has provisions attached to it that both groups and others have been pushing for years to happen. In an effort to cover the cost of the payroll tax extension, the bill also sets aside a large block of so-called unlicensed spectrum for auction, which is expected to bring in upwards of $25 billion. That spectrum had previously been used for TV broadcast use, but is now being eyed by various parties for next-generation WiFi networks, which could cover greater distances and potentially be used to bolster existing wireless networks. As part of the bill, Congress has also set aside a slice of spectrum that will be used as part of a nationwide network for public safety agencies. As The New York Times notes, however, it will see be quite a while before anything trickles down to consumers, with the auctions themselves at least a year or two away. The CEA and CTIA's statements can be found after the break. 

 By Donald Melanson - Engadget