Last week at the NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) show, FCC head Tom Wheeler pushed broadcasters to loosen their grip on spectrum that the agency plans to auction off to give wireless internet room to grow. Now, he's laid out a draft of the rules for the auction before it takes place next year. The upcoming incentive auction will be a three stage process that, once completed, should open up more wireless spectrum for high-speed services like WiFi. WiFi operates on "unlicensed spectrum" that's open for anyone to use, and similar networks or devices could take advantage of any new frequencies the FCC opens up, while reducing interference with existing networks. That's good and bad however, since they'd fill the space in between networks, it could be harder to build up something like WiFi.
So far not everyone has been happy with the possible rules for this redistribution. That includes the broadcasters themselves, whose participation will have to happen voluntarily, and the companies expected to bid for access, namely AT&T who has warned that it might skip the process based on the FCC's restrictions on how much spectrum it can buy. Wheeler's guidelines haven't mentioned those limits, so it will be interesting to see how that develops. According to his blog post, extending the amount of spectrum is key for offering wireless broadband service in both rural areas and urban areas where building penetration is a problem. Now that the rules are here, everyone from your local TV broadcaster to wireless carriers to cash heavy dreamers like Google and Dish Network can look them over and voice their opinions before the commission votes on them May 15th.
*Verizon is currently in the process of acquiring AOL, Engadget's parent company. However, Engadget maintains full editorial control, and Verizon will have to pry it from our cold, dead hands.