Open Access Airwaves

The Federal Communications Commission finally announced their plans for the 700MHz band...and it is *gasp* somewhat good news.

For those of you who haven't been following, the last analog television broadcasts will cease on February 17, 2009; at that point, the 698-806MHz radio frequency spectrum will be completely open and up for grabs. In their Public Policy Blog, Google advocates open applications, open devices, open services, and open networks in the 700MHz band, all of which the socialist within me agrees are completely necessary. This is the information age -- why create anything less than a consumer paradise in which any device operating on a particular frequency will have open access to all information and infrastructure available on said frequency?

In a rare instance of sound decision making, the FCC is listening to Google (and yours truly), demanding that "the upper 700MHz band C block of spectrum will be required to provide a platform that is...open to devices and applications," allowing at least some part of aforementioned consumer paradise to be made a reality. The catches? Services and networks aren't required to be open, and only 12 licenses will be created for operating in that range. To whom these 12 licensees are eventually granted will decide the fate of open source utopia.

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