The Federal Communications Commission will soon lay down the final rules on opening television spectrum to the public. Google is hungrily anticipating the move because it will mean its Web applications will reach more people.
With the Federal Communications Commission set to deliver
the final rules for opening television white spaces spectrum to the public,
Google is eyeing the potential for speedy WiFi networks as new real estate for
its Web applications.
The FCC Sept. 23 is expected to expand the availability
of unlicensed TV airwaves to the public, paving the way for powerful
wireless broadband networks without requiring special spectrum
The airwaves comprises the so-called white spaces, or the
unused spectrum between broadcast TV channels that became fallow with
last year's transition from analog to digital TV. The FCC voted in November 2008
to free the white spaces for use by all Americans, but the effort has slowly
wound its way through the agency.
In 10 days, white spaces will be set free, potentially
extending the Internet to heretofore unreached rural areas lacking broadband
access. This is a pain point FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski
has been trying to mitigate with his National Broadband Plan
Indeed, Genachowski told
the New York Times he envisions
the creation of WiFi networks that power entire college and corporate campuses.
Better WiFi can also boost communications for public health services and law enforcement.
These airwaves are powerful enough to earn the nick name
"WiFi on steroids" portend the use of Web applications not currently
That has Internet companies such as Google salivating. Google,
Facebook and others depend on fat pipes and powerful broadband networks to carry
the data packets generated by its Web applications from Google's cloud of
servers to consumers' computers. Google pairs ads with these Web apps to make $24 billion a year.
"If it gets the rules right, the Commission will
have taken a huge step to put better and faster Internet connections in the
hands of the public," wrote
Google Washington Telecom and Media Counsel Richard Whitt.
Whitt cited white spaces projects currently providing
WiFi across Wilmington, North Carolina. Plumas County, Calif., is running a smart
grid WiFi network with the spectrum.
Google, which in January proposed
a white spaces database, Whitt weren't without some suggestions for the
Whitt asked that Google support a geolocation solution
for interference protection and establish a "keep-out" zone for wireless
microphones. This will protect the users of authorized wireless microphones
without impinging white spaces devices to operate in big cities.
"Google and many others in the tech industry are
eager finally to get the green light to start innovating and building new
services on these airwaves," Whitt said. Not
every faction is thrilled about the expansion of white spaces. TV
broadcasters fear the spectrum will interfere with their own