Big Name Companies Push for High-Speed Services in Wireless White Spaces

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Microsoft, Intel, Google, Dell, and other companies are pushing for a controversial plan that could bring high-speed wireless access to more mobile devices, but only if they can get FCC approval.

The United States in in the process of changing the way TV channels are broadcast. Starting early next year, all of these will be transmitted by digital signals, rather than the old analog ones.  To be sure channels don’t interfere with each other, there’s a gap between the frequencies each one uses, called "White Space".

Several high-tech companies have formed the White Space Coalition, with the goal of using the spaces between TV channels for wireless networking services. To accomplish this, they are lobbying both the FCC and the U.S. Congress.

So far the FCC hasn’t warmed to the idea, and the TV Broadcasters Association is actively opposed. There is also resistance from wireless microphone makers, which already use white space to broadcast signals.

Google’s Latest Proposal

GoogleGoogle recently sent the FCC an open letter touting the advantages of the proposal, which said, in part, "The vast majority of viable spectrum in this country simply goes unused, or else is grossly underutilised. Unlike other natural resources, there is no benefit to allowing this spectrum to lie fallow."

This company’s suggestion for is for networking equipment to check to be sure it won’t interfere with any other wireless signal before using any particular bit of white space. It also proposed a section of the spectrum be set apart for wireless microphones.

Google has no plans to develop white space networking equipment, but it would like additional bandwidth to be available for smartphones running its Android operating system.

The FCC is studying the proposals from the White Space Coalition.

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