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Google demi-god backs shared mobile airwaves

Raises fist at 'Soviet Ministries'

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OpenMobileSummit After plugging Google's open source Android OS into the interplanetary interwebs, net demi-god Vint Cerf has called for a mobile world where the airwaves are shared by multiple wireless outfits.

But he's well aware that the mobile industry's "Soviet Ministries" - aka the incumbent carriers - are less than likely to leap at the idea.

"I'd like to encourage further serious thought about the ability to run multiple applications - and have multiple parties involved - in the same spectral space," Cerf told mobile insiders Thursday morning at San Francisco, California's OpenMobileSummit.

"I know that's scary for some folks, especially those who [have already] paid a lot of money to gain access to a particular piece of spectrum. But auctioning spectrum and dedicating its use is a very inefficient way of using that available resource, and the technology has reached the point now where we should be able to permit multiple parties to inhabit the same space."

In the US, the Federal Communications Commission continues to back the old auction-the-airwaves-to-the-highest-bidder model. The FCC's latest plan would see the commission reclaim at least some of the country's TV airwaves for some sort of mega mobile auction. That means giving exclusive access to the big name carriers, outfits that the Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg couldn't help but refer to as "Soviet Ministries" in opening today's conference early this morning.

"Wow, that's the first time I've heard anyone come so close to calling all those guys a bunch of communists," Cerf said, before trumpeting the idea of shared mobile networks. "If the FCC reopens its technology advisory committee - and even if it doesn't - I'm urging the reconsideration of [spectrum sharing]. We should be setting spectrum aside and carrying out tests."

Cerf suggests these test might involve mixture of CDMA, OSDM, and other wireless technologies. Asked if there was enough quality spectrum available for this sort of thing, Cerf was adamant there is. "Using digital techniques and various adaptive methods, you can pair spectrum in a lot of ways. You can have all these different modulation schemes inhabiting the same spectrum," he said. "There are some big opportunities for literal sharing of spectrum."

Can Google force such a thing down the carriers' throats? It's happened before.

Bootnote

Vint Cerf is now employed by the world's largest ad broker as a "Google evangelist." But at one point during his morning speech, Cerf inexplicably went off Mountain View message. Following a speech from Adobe chief technology officer Kevin Lynch that pitched browser-based mobile application built with Flash, Cerf asked Lynch what Adobe was doing to facilitate client apps, insisting there's a serious future for native code on mobile devices. Presumably, when Cerf reenters the Mountain View Chocolate Factory, he'll be pelted with colored balls to within an inch of his life.

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