Over the objections of broadcasters and wireless microphone users, the FCC on Tuesday unanimously approved new rules that permit the operation of unlicensed wireless devices in the digital television “white space” bands. Following on recent FCC Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) findings that wireless broadband devices that rely on geolocation technology could function on white space channels without interfering with adjacent broadcast TV and wireless mic operations, the order adopted this week caps months of effort by Microsoft and Google to convince regulators to open white spaces to wireless users. Alongside Motorola and other technology firms, Microsoft and Google have told the FCC that the white space bands offer great potential for the development of new and innovative wireless applications and devices. Signaling agreement with the companies’ assessment, FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein proclaimed Tuesday that “white spaces are the blank pages on which we write our broadband future.” Under Tuesday’s order, unlicensed white space devices that use geolocation technology will be required only to obtain equipment certification at the FCC. Devices that rely on spectrum-sensing technology, meanwhile, must undergo “proof of performance” interference tests before they are certified for use. Noting that the order recognizes arguments on both sides of the white spaces debate, Commissioner Michael Copps observed that the rules adopted by the FCC provide “several forms of belt and suspender protection” against potential interference. Although Microsoft praised the FCC’s vote as one that “ushers in a new era of wireless broadband innovation,” the Association of Maximum Service Television faulted the FCC for its failure to seek comment on the OET report, as it charged the agency with choosing “a path that imperils Americans’ television reception in order to satisfy the ‘free’ spectrum demands of Google and Microsoft.”