Washington -- The Federal Communications Commission voted
last Thursday to allow wireless cable operators to offer high-speed, two-way data
services, including Internet access, as a competitive alternative to cable operators.
FCC officials said the expanded authority will permit
wireless cable operators to offer Internet access at speeds 100 times faster than ISDN
(integrated services digital network), at 1.3 megabits per second, which is provided by
some telephone companies.
Andrew Kreig, president of the Wireless Communications
Association International (WCA), said the FCC had "lifted the most significant
barrier" facing his industry in its effort to provide a "clamoring" public
with high-speed data access.
The FCC said wireless operators could combine 6-megahertz
channels to create superchannels for broadband purposes. The FCC rules will allow wireless
operators to use their entire spectrum for data, meaning that they may cease video
FCC commissioner Susan Ness said the agency's action
"should reinvigorate the wireless cable business."
Walter Ciciora, a cable consultant, said cable operators
will have a technical advantage over wireless access to the Internet because cable systems
are able to subdivide nodes to ensure that data rates do not diminish as more and more
subscribers log on to the network.