Google, Verizon Weigh In On White Space Test

FCC to test tomorrow at Redskins game

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The on-going corporate wrangling between Google and Verizon is heating up again as the Federal Communications Commission prepares to test technology that would make it possible to offer WiFi broadband Internet over unused TV channels known as white spaces.

Technically, the white spaces are the unused portions of spectrum between broadcast channels, used as a buffer to prevent interfering signals. Google, Microsoft, and some other major companies want to use them for WiFi signals. Verizon et alia (the telecommunications industry), broadcasters, and, interestingly, churches are not in favor opening up the white spaces.

The opposition claims use of the white spaces will interfere with network signals despite claims new technology will prevent it. Users of wireless microphones, like those used in church services, also fear interference despite mounting evidence to the contrary.

In previous FCC tests, the technology in question failed, but testers also failed to test a backup unit. At the time, Microsoft protested that testers didn’t also test the backup provided. Since then, though, both Motorola and Philips have successfully demonstrated how the devices work for the FCC.

From the tone of today’s Google Public Policy blog post, it sounds like Google isn’t as confident in the upcoming tests, which are slated for tomorrow at Fed Ex Stadium during a Redskins Buffalo football game. Google’s Washington Telecom and Media Counsel Richard Whitt reminded readers about a Google-developed "enhanced protection plan" introduced in March the company guarantees will protect against interference.

"Regardless of how these tests validate certain technical parameters of spectrum sensing," wrote Whitt, "those venues would be fully protected anyway under Google’s March proposal. In particular, standalone use of a geolocation database with a look-up function would offer complete protection to digital TV and wireless microphone signals at major venues."

Google’s plan recommended the use of geolocation databases, beacons, and/or safe harbors in conjunction.

Verizon, as usual, is on the other side of this, noting that white space technology hasn’t past all tests yet, and therefore they still have concern that their own wireless signals will be in jeopardy. Even if not, Verizon’s not so sure it wants WiFi sent over unlicensed spectrum, as proponents have suggested. They’d rather keep it out of public hands and use it for storage.

But of course the bigger reason is that licensed spectrum makes it harder for competition to enter the marketplace. Not that any voice in this is necessarily altruistic and proffered in the best interest of the public; broadcasters are protecting their niche, Google gains tremendously by greater Internet accessibility, and technology manufacturers stand to make tidy sums by making the devices. It just so happens, once again, Google’s interests run parallel to the public’s, while others’ do not.  


Google, Verizon Weigh In On White Space Test
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  • http://www.e-topic.com/authors/2965/Cristian-Stan CristianStan

    Not much into telecomunications stuff but this article sounds interesting

    Google is fighting everyone lately..

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