Google Raises Hopes For National Wi-Fi
Rivalry with Microsoft takes a backseat to working with them as part of a group lobbying the FCC for the spaces inside analog TV spectrum next year.
Google’s magical ability to grab attention came into play as the company openly talked about plans to offer a wi-fi network across the country. Through the available “white space” in the 700MHz spectrum, the company and its partners in the Wireless Innovation Alliance plan to deliver high-speed access to wireless services.
The discussion heated up with Google publicly discussing these plans. Reuters said Google wants its Android platform to be among the class of low-powered devices able to operate in those white spaces, with the potential for gigabit-speed access.
However, the coalition backing this idea suffered a setback last year. Tests of a prototype device by the FCC showed it would interfere with TV or wireless microphone signals.
The coalition began testing new devices with better abilities at sensing the white spaces and avoiding interference. However, the effort also faces lobbying from the National Association of Broadcasters, who claim a white space plan will interfere with not only their signals, but even that of hospital equipment.
Self interest is in play for NAB, as a white spaces plan with national availability makes the spectrum a huge public access channel that anyone would be able to use. As the broadcast industry already suffers from competition with the Internet, the use of unused spectrum would be another attack on their interests.
The debate over white spaces could have been avoided had Google competed more aggressively for ownership of the 700MHz spectrum, as auctions for the national C block ended with Verizon the winner.
Google’s strategy of compelling the FCC to put an open devices and open applications requirement on the auction winner appeared to be focused on this endgame with the white spaces in the spectrum. As it has the prospect of turning wireless broadband Internet and voice access into a low-cost utility instead of a dearly-priced telco service, look for the opposition on national and state levels to begin in earnest.