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FCC frees up spectrum for super-fast wireless

A second day of technical troubles at Facebook
San Francisco (AFP) Sept 23, 2010 - Some Facebook users were shut out of the social networking service on Thursday as the website was beset by technical troubles for the second day in a row. "We're currently experiencing some site issues causing Facebook to be slow or unavailable for some users," Facebook said in response to an AFP inquiry. "We are working to resolve this issue as quickly as possible." The Palo Alto, California-based firm did not indicate the cause of the problem. On Wednesday, trouble with a third-party networking provider was blamed for stopping some Facebook users from connecting with the cherished online social network that boasts more than 500 million members worldwide.
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Sept 23, 2010
US government regulators freed up unused spectrum between television channels on Thursday for super-fast wireless service and use by the next generation of mobile devices.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted 5-0 to open up so-called "white spaces" -- the vacant airwaves between broadcast television channels.

The FCC said the move, the first release of unlicensed spectrum in 25 years, would lead to "a host of new technologies, such as "super Wi-Fi," and myriad other diverse applications."

"Unlocking this valuable spectrum will open the doors for new industries to arise, create American jobs, and fuel new investment and innovation," the FCC said in a statement.

FCC chairman Julius Genachowski said it will lead to "billions of dollars in private investment and to valuable new products and services -- some we can imagine, and many we can't.

"We know what the first major application will be: super Wi-Fi. Super Wi-Fi is what it sounds like: Wi-Fi, but with longer range, faster speeds, and more reliable connections," Genachowski said.

Television networks and wireless microphone users had protested that allowing use of "white spaces" would lead to interference with their signals.

The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) said following the unanimous vote that it would be reviewing the ruling.

"NAB's overriding goal in this proceeding has been to ensure America's continued interference-free access to high quality news, entertainment and sports provided by free and local television stations," NAB executive vice president Dennis Wharton said in a statement.

Ed Black, president and chief executive of the Computer and Communications Industry Association, welcomed the FCC move.

"This has been a long time coming and many companies and innovators will now be able to bring new applications and devices they have been researching and developing from the lab to the marketplace," Black said in a statement.

"We're excited about what this will mean for rural broadband access, smart device technology, telemedicine and the next innovation that we cannot yet imagine," he added.

earlier related report
Facebook out to make mobile phones more social
San Francisco (AFP) Sept 22, 2010 - Facebook sees a promising future in mobile phones but the online social networking star is not building its own handset, the founder said in a TechCrunch interview posted online Wednesday.

"Our goal is to have Facebook be everywhere and everything be social rather than a specific device," founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg was quoted as saying.

"We're not trying to compete with Apple or the Droid (mobile phone from Motorola) or any other hardware manufacturer for that matter."

Facebook arranged for the interview to dispel speculation that the Palo Alto, California, company was working on a mobile phone.

Zuckerberg told TechCrunch that rumors may have resulted from mistaken interpretation of Facebook's efforts to infuse its services and features in the gamut of mobile devices.

"Our goal is to make it so that we can design the best integrations in the widest variety of phones," Zuckerberg said, stressing that Facebook was not building a mobile operating system or hardware "from scratch."

Software can make mobile phones more personalized and social by letting people sign in the way they do to customized home pages at Google, Yahoo! or elsewhere on the Internet, according to Zuckerberg.

"Just make it so that you log into your phone once, and then everything that you do on your phone is social," he said.

"I guess maybe Google or Microsoft could log you into the browser, but we can't because we don't build a browser," Zuckerberg continued. "But, that is the basic strategy."

Facebook is trying to be the platform for a "social layer" in all Internet-linked devices, according to the founder.

Facebook is investing heavily in weaving its software into iPhones since the Apple smartphones have a commanding presence in the market and has been increasing focus on handsets powered by Google-backed Android software.

"If Windows Phone 7 takes off, I'm sure we'll put resources into that," Zuckerberg said.

Microsoft's latest-generation mobile software platform is to be released next month.

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