A gaggle of tech companies, led by Google and Microsoft, have been pushing the FCC
to open up the "white space" spectrum -- open airwaves in between those used by TV broadcasts -- for use by electronic devices and broadband services. This has been talked about for quite some time
, and represents one way to more efficiently use spectrum, which is a finite and very valuable resource. The group delivered a prototype to the FCC earlier this year, as a way to show that the technology to allow devices to automatically detect what spectrum's in use and what's available, and route communications accordingly, is viable. The FCC's been testing it for several months, and it's all good, except for one little problem: it doesn't actually work
. The Commission says the prototype couldn't detect TV broadcasts, and it also sometimes interfered with them. While this current iteration of the technology sounds like a failure, the FCC is still open to the idea of allowing use of the white spaces; now Google, Microsoft and their friends just need to get the technology right before things can move forward.