Google, Microsoft Want Some (White) Space

    April 3, 2007
    WebProNews Staff

Google and Microsoft aren’t always rivals. Quite often in government matters they’re pals – Network Neutrality is a good example. Most recently the two tech behemoths have squared off against the Association for Maximum Service Television (MSTV) over unused broadcast spectrum.

Google, Microsoft Want Some (White) Space
Google, Microsoft Want Some (White) Space
Google, Microsoft Want Some (White) Space

Surplus spectrum, in this case unused areas between TV channels, is known as "white space."

Google and Microsoft want the Federal Communications Commission to make that unused air available for wireless Internet access – free wireless Internet access.

Hmmm. It’s a wonder nobody thought of this before…and lets not begin to speculate on Web video capabilities both companies are looking to ramp up.

The unofficial "white-spaces group," as they’ve been called, is a corporate coalition that also includes Dell and Intel.

Though white space exists to prevent channels from bleeding into each other, Microsoft submitted a prototype technology to the government for testing last month. Microsoft maintains that the technology will prevent signals from interfering with each other.

As soon as the white spaces group made their plea to the FCC, the MSTV immediately staged a protest saying the proposal to open up all that unused air didn’t go far enough to protect digital television users from bleeding signals.

The only problem is, as a former FCC chief engineer Edmond Thomas pointed out, MSTV’s protests centered on the wrong technology. Microsoft’s supposed ace-in-the-hole prototype was deemed effective.

Incumbent spectrum owners like AT&T and MSTV are understandably nervous. If players like Google and Microsoft have an easier time playing on traditional incumbent turf, it could change everything.