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Page: White Spaces Wireless Not A Pipe Dream

Google dreams of wide-open wireless spaces in 700MHz

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Part of Google’s ruling triumvirate, co-founder Larry Page, appeared on Capitol Hill to talk about broadband and other topics, like the ability to deliver wireless high-speed Internet within the 700MHz spectrum.

Microsoft may be cast regularly as Google’s big adversary, but that’s a cupcake-tossing toddler spat compared to Google’s running duel with Verizon during the bidding for the national block of 700MHz spectrum coming available in February 2009.

The war of words should escalate now that Verizon has a bill for a few billion dollars, and Google and the Wireless Innovation Alliance want to cruise Verizon’s new wireless highway. However, obstacles to placing devices operating within the gaps in 700MHz exist.

Google’s Richard Whitt talked about this and Page’s recent trip to the Nation’s Capitol to discuss the access people have, and don’t have, to decent Internet service. On the Google Public Policy blog, Whitt recounted Page’s suggestions about the future of wireless access.

Whitt noted Page’s remark about a favorite claim of opponents to wireless Internet in the spectrum: that it will interfere with wireless microphones.

“While we believe that spectrum sensing technology can be proven to work, Larry noted that Google has also proposed an enhanced spectrum protection plan — involving geolocation and beacon technology — to guarantee that devices using this spectrum wouldn’t interfere with current users,” Whitt noted.

The FCC holds similar views, with Page citing a belief that the Agency will not approve any type of white spaces access device until it can be guaranteed a device won’t interfere with anything else.

“(Page) said he is ’100 percent confident’ that the white spaces will be used for Internet access — it’s just a question of when,” said Whitt.

“And when that happens, many different companies will likely invest millions of dollars to develop innovative devices that don’t interfere. But the FCC allowing this innovation to happen is a necessary first step.”

The promise of white space Internet access holds great potential for underserved rural locations in particular. While areas of the country exist where wired high-speed options don’t exist, there will be a need for a better option, and what could be better than a spectrum they receive today in the form of TV signals?

Verizon raised concerns in July 2007 over the open access rule for the auction. The rule left the door open for Google to slip its white spaces device onto the spectrum Verizon ultimately won.

“Imposing any such requirements in the competitive wireless market would reduce the revenue the government will receive from the spectrum auction and limit the introduction of new and innovative wireless services,” said Verizon on that blog post.

That “reduced revenue” ended up being nearly $20 billion overall for the FCC in the collection of auctions that included the 700MHz C block, which Verizon picked up for $4.75 billion. Doesn’t seem like the FCC lost too much money, does it?

Page: White Spaces Wireless Not A Pipe Dream
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