March 27, 2008 |
Google has been eyeing the white space on your television with an eye to using it for WiFi. For most people, you don't even notice any unused channels in this digital age, but they are there. To repurpose these open spaces for WiFi access would be a huge step toward true nationwide connectivity.
Why is nationwide internet access so key to our future? Currently our nation lags behind other nations in science and technology. We are witnessing a widening gap between the privileged and the under privileged, the haves and have nots. If everyone had access to the same information and tools as everyone else, it would help level the playing field.
Google has submitted a petition to the FCC asking to be able to use the space to offer what they are calling “WiFi on steroids”. If the petition is granted, we could see use of this unused space for WiFi as soon as the analog to digital switch is made. That switch will free up those unused channels.
Combining the unused channels, assuming the petition is accepted, with the newly open 700mhz spectrum could make getting broadband internet access to everyone a reality much sooner than trying to do it through the municipal city by city method of WiFi hotspots. This method is currently failing due to cost and other issues.
Google has offered detailed plans for their use of this white space. They have gone as far as figuring out security measures to make sure they don't cause interference with any other devices operating near that bandwidth. this could go far in allaying any potential concerns the National Association of Broadcasters may have. Proactively answering their questions may earn Google their backing.
Some people may have a problem with Google being the one to use the channels, for fear of total dominance in the online market by google. Perhaps that will be the case, that Google earns too much power over the internet markets in a move like this. I have to say that hopes for a connected, competitive United States outweighs any concerns over a Google bandwidth monopoly for me in this instance.
Google is not the only company interested in opening the white space for WiFi use. Google actually belongs to a WiFi coalition that includes HP and Microsoft, all of whom want the space opened for use. Bill Gates even spoke about the potential for using the space recently. With this many heavy hitters trying to get the space opened, hopefully it is only a matter of time before the FCC approves the petition and OKs it for use.