Thanks to an agreement at a month-long UN telecom conference in Geneva, the cost for rights to use new US wireless spectrum going on the block in January may have just increased. Google, Yahoo and Apple are among the companies expected to a battle for licenses to the 700 Mhz bandwith, and the UN deal could make products built for the US attractive in dozens of other markets worldwide.
The switch from analog to digital TV is freeing up these frequencies for alternate uses, but not all countries represented at the UN summit have agreed on how to allocate the space. European broadcasters, for example, worry that new products in the 700 Mhz space may interfere with digital TV signals. Countries in the Americas and Asia fashioned a compromise: open the spectrum, but let national regulators control the date of switchover.