The search giant launches a public campaign to pressure the Federal Communications Commission into approving the unlicensed use of the interference buffer zones between digital channels. Google, Microsoft, Motorola and other IT companies hope to exploit the digital television transition by delivering wireless broadband in the empty spectrum between digital television channels.
As the Federal Communications Commission finishes field testing white spaces
devices to determine the practicality of tapping the unused spectrum between
digital television channels, Google has launched a public campaign to promote unlicensed
use of the airwaves.
This unused spectrum-known as white spaces-is provided to broadcasters to
create interference buffer zones. Google, Microsoft and other tech companies
want the spectrum to deliver broadband and other advanced wireless services,
while the NAB (National Association of
Broadcasters) is adamant in its opposition to the operation of unlicensed
devices in the buffer zones.
The differences between the groups have created a war of words and intensive
lobbying on Capitol Hill, and Google's Free
site, launched Aug. 18, is the search giant's latest attempt
to influence public policy. The site asks users to sign a Google petition
supporting the use of white spaces and urges advocates to spread the word.
Click here to read Eric Lundquist's view on freeing the airwaves.
"Today more than three-quarters of those radio airwaves, or 'white
space' spectrum, are completely unused," the Google site states. "This
vast public resource could offer a revolution in wireless services of all
kinds, including universal wireless Internet."
Google co-founder Larry
Page said in May,
"This is a huge opportunity to get connectivity to
the American people, particularly in rural areas. I think it will make a huge
difference to everybody."
The spectrum between the channels will become available after Feb. 17 when
broadcasters make the switch to digital broadcasting. The FCC began testing
white spaces devices with mixed results
in January using a prototype device
supplied by Microsoft. In July, the agency moved the tests outdoors using
devices from Motorola, Philips, Adaptrum and InfoComm International.
Motorola's device was the only one using both geolocation and sensing
technologies, while devices from Philips, Adaptrum and InfoComm relied only on
sensing to detect existing TV channels. Motorola primarily relied on combining
geolocation with an FCC database of channels to find spectrum in the white
spaces that would not interfere with existing TV channels.
"It worked as well as we said it would," Steve Sharkey, Motorola's
senior director of regulatory and spectrum policy, said Aug. 7. "It went
Google and the other tech giants supporting the use of white spaces face
opposition from more than the broadcasters. In a May
1 filing with the FCC,
the National Football League, Major League Baseball,
the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, the National Basketball
Association, the National Hockey League, the National Collegiate Athletic
Association, the PGA Tour and ESPN all opposed the use of white spaces, fearing
interference with their wireless microphones.
"These devices could knock out wireless
communications systems like headsets used by coaches and officials, microphones
used by referees to announce penalties and calls, and microphones used by
journalists to conduct interviews with athletes and coaches," the