FCC Testing Web-Over-Airwaves Device

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Communications Commission is expected to release findings this summer on whether a new device can deliver high-speed Internet service over unused airwaves without disrupting television programming.

Scott Blake Harris, the attorney for a coalition of technology companies that developed the device, said Tuesday the FCC is expected to issue its test results by July.

He said the regulatory agency could then adopt final rules by October.

The FCC did not confirm the timetable.

The coalition, which includes Microsoft Corp., Google Inc., Dell Inc. and others, wants the agency to open up unlicensed and unused TV spectrum, also known as “white spaces,” for broadband Internet service.

However, TV broadcasters are unconvinced the device will work and said if the new technology is approved it could also cause problems with their federally mandated transition from analog to digital signals in early 2009.

If the device passes muster and rules are adopted for spectrum usage, Harris said the agency could start certifying similar devices in December. That means manufacturers of the devices must show their technology conforms to the agency’s rule.

However, such devices would not go on sale until February 2009, he added.

The coalition, which submitted the prototype about two weeks ago, said using the white spaces would spur technological innovation and help provide affordable broadband service to millions of Americans, especially in rural communities.

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