At first, it boggles the mind. Between channel four and channel five, for example, there is something. This broadcast space is commonly referred to as “white space” and it’s just become much more accessible.

The Federal Communications Commission recently voted to allow unlicensed personal devices access to the space. Arguably, the FCC vote wasn’t the most important on November 4th, but the decision does come after weeks of heated debate.

On one side of the debate were television broadcasters and, at one point, country music star Dolly Parton. They argued that devices using the white space to send information would interfere with wireless microphones. On the other side were Internet and technology moguls who stand to gain a powerful new vehicle. Allowing unlicensed use will save them the millions and millions of dollars it can take to obtain a broadcast license.

So, what does this decision really mean? More, and faster, information sharing. Many liken the capability of the potential of white space technology to that of Wi-Fi. One FCC commissioner said that the use of the white space could be like “Wi-Fi on steroids.” The FCC did say that they will have to examine any devices that are designed to use the airwaves, presumably to help assuage Ms. Parton’s concerns. Still, this decision should mean that big things are on the horizon for information sharing.

— Blair Lazarus

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