Google Sept. 23 applauded the Federal Communications Commission for freeing up the vacant airwaves between TV channels that are able to power wireless broadband networks.
Google rooted on the Federal Communications Commission, which Sept. 23 freed
up the so-called "white spaces," or vacant airwaves between TV channels that
can power speedy wireless broadband networks.
TV airwave signals can travel far and deep-through walls, in fact-making
the spectrum well-suited for mobile devices that connect wirelessly to the Web,
such as smartphones and tablet computers.
Google, Facebook, and other Internet companies covet this spectrum
because they want to propagate their Web
applications on smartphones, tablets, TVs and any device that will connect to
The FCC had pre-approved
white space use for the public in 2008, but the
effort eventually became bogged down.
Richard Whitt, Google's Washington
telecom and media counsel, wrote in a blog post
"Today's order finally sets the stage for the next generation of
wireless technologies to emerge, and is an important victory for Internet users
across the country."
Google is already testing these white spaces. The company Sept. 14 launched
a broadband network using the spectrum at the Hocking
Hospital, in Logan,
Ohio. Google helped the hospital
outfit first-responder vehicles with the network. The hospital is also using
the network to manage its video surveillance for the grounds.
Google rival Microsoft has been testing technology at its Redmond,
Wash., campus, stretching Internet access
across a mile of its campus using two antennae.
"As more people access information via mobile and other intelligent
devices, additional strain is being put on existing wireless networks,"
said Craig Mundie, Microsoft's chief research and strategy officer, in a
Google and Microsoft's experiments are the type of activity FCC chairman Julius
Genachowski and his four commissioners hope to see more of now that the agency
has given the white-space spectrum the green light.
"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, noting that this is the first
significant block of spectrum issued for public use in 25 years.
TV broadcasters and wireless microphone makers had opposed the freeing of
the white-space spectrum, claiming it would interfere with their broadcast
signals and wireless microphones. These groups sued
the FCC last year to stop the spectrum from going public.
Adding insult to injury for its white-space opponents, the FCC struck down
constraints requiring that TV devices incorporate geolocation, and database access
must include sensing technology to detect the signals of TV stations and
To assuage wireless broadcasters' concerns, the FCC said it is reserving two
vacant UHF channels for wireless microphones across the country.
Moreover, TV stations and wireless microphones will register in a database
as a protected service; those seeking to use the white spaces will have to
check that database.
The TV spectrum move also buoys the FCC's National Broadband Plan
designed to facilitate
broadband access across the country, especially in rural areas, where access is
poor or even absent.