Feeds

Free the airwaves, cries Google

FCC to consider petitions, analysis and dancing phones

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Google has launched another round in the PR battle over American white space, with a new website asking visitors to sign a petition to convince the FCC to allow unlicensed use of the spaces between TV channels.

This isn't the first website Google has set up to fight its corner. The Wireless Innovation Alliance was set up to present evidence that making use of the empty spectrum would not interfere with TV broadcasting, but this one looks much more like a grassroots protest than a slick media machine.

Not only are visitors asked to sign the petition, but in proper Web 2.0 style they're invited to upload YouTube videos of themselves expressing how important the issue is to them.

The problem with using the spaces between TV channels is that the available spectrum varies around the country, so devices have to avoid interfering with broadcasters who paid for exclusive access to the frequencies. Most of the demonstrations in this area are based on Detect and Avoid techniques, but those only work if the signal can be detected*, and repeated technical trails have failed to impress so far.

The alternative is to fit devices with GPS or similar, then include a database of frequencies to avoid by area. That would require devices to pick up a GPS signal before starting operation; difficult indoors, and could also lead to white space devices interfering with each other as they each believe the same spectrum is unused.

The current proposal is to use a combination of these techniques to provide the best avoidance possible, though the National Association of Broadcasters is having none of it - it's wheeled out some comedy animated mobile phones to illustrate the point for the hard of thinking.

The unregulated use of white space is a technical issue - either it will interfere with TV or it won't - but the proponents and their opposition have turned it into a political battle. Petitioning the FCC to allow unlicensed use of white space seems insane when the decision should rest on technical trials, not public opinion, but that's not stopping anyone from soliciting public support.

The FCC will vote on the matter in the next few months, hopefully basing their decision on sound technical analysis rather than populist petitions or dancing telephones. ®

*A transmitter behind a hill might be invisible to a white-space device, which will then broadcast on the same frequency and thus interfere with reception at a TV set that has line-of-sight to both.

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Same old iPad? NO. The new 'soft SIMs' are BIG NEWS
AppleSIM 'ware to allow quick switch of carriers
Arab States make play for greater government control of the internet
Nerds told to get lost in last-minute power grab bid at UN meeting
Brits: Google, can you scrape 60k pages from web, pleeease
Hey, c'mon Choc Factory, it's our 'right to be forgotten'
Of COURSE Stephen Elop's to blame for Nokia woes, says author
'Google did have some unique propositions for Nokia'
It's even GRIMMER up North after MEGA SKY BROADBAND OUTAGE
By 'eck! Eccles cake production thrown into jeopardy
Mobile coverage on trains really is pants
You thought it was just *insert your provider here*, but now we have numbers
Don't mess with Texas ('cos it's getting Google Fiber and you're not)
A bit late, but company says 1Gbps Austin network almost ready to compete with AT&T
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.