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FCC cleans up spectrum for wireless broadband

Agency's new plan for radio spectrum makes way for access.

The Federal Communications Commission approved plans to improve the management of a block of radio spectrum, easing the way for the wider adoption of wireless broadband access.

As expected, the agency voted Thursday to create separate segments within the 2495MHz to 2690MHz band for wireless broadband and one-way video broadcast uses. The move reduces the likelihood of interference from products using those bands and makes it easier for licensees of that spectrum to develop useful services.

The agency has been examining bands of spectrum and looking for sections that can be used for wireless broadband use. It has been looking to promote the use of wireless technology as a third viable broadband option to cable and DSL (digital subscriber line) service, as it tries to meet President Bush's bold challenge to make high-speed Internet access available to all Americans by 2007.

Radio spectrum is a finite resource that the agency is looking to more efficiently manage. The FCC and others have agreed that the 2.495GHz to 2.690GHz section of the spectrum has been underutilized. It has been listening to proposals for streamlining its use.

Altering spectrum regulations won't be an easy process. The allocation of spectrum has been a particularly touchy issue in the technology and communications industries. With new wireless technologies on the way, such as EvDO (Evolution Data Only) and WiMax, issues like interference and limited range will likely become more of a problem.

The FCC turned down requests to allow current licensees to sell their spectrum for commercial use but is allowing them to lease it. Licensees have three years to meet the new segment rules.