Google’s Page Fights for White Spaces
Google Cofounder Larry Page Visits Washington, D.C., to Push for Allowing Mobile Unlicensed Devices to Share DTV Spectrum
By John Eggerton -- Broadcasting & Cable, 5/22/2008 8:56:00 AM
Google cofounder Larry Page was in Washington, D.C., Thursday to make a pitch in person and online for allowing mobile unlicensed devices to share the digital-TV spectrum with TV stations -- something broadcasters are fighting hard against.
At a presentation arranged by unlicensed-device backer the New America Foundation, of which Google is a member, Page said broadcasters were being protectionist and that there was no technical reason why unlicensed devices couldn't be made to work without interfering with DTV signals.
Page argued that opening up vacant TV spectrum after the February 2009 switch to digital TV will help to spread broadband as well as boost Google's bottom line, calling opening up the white spaces "the most important thing the FCC [Federal Communications Commission] can do this year to promote broadband deployment and tech-sector innovation."
Google wants the so-called white spaces between TV channels to be used for wireless Internet access, while broadcasters countered that the devices aren't sufficiently reliable and could interfere with their broadcasts and threaten their business.
Just this week, the Wireless Innovation Alliance -- which counts Google and Microsoft as members -- have been sparring again with the Association for Maximum Service Television (MSTV) over FCC testing of the unlicensed devices that Google wants the FCC to allow.
Page was in Washington to meet with the FCC and Congress to lobby for use of the white spaces. He said Google's mission to make the world's information accessible is what got the company involved into the wireless space. What good is organizing that information if people can't access it, he argued.
Page said using the white spaces for broadband would be like "Wi-Fi on steroids," with high data rates and cheaper service, which, he added, was reason enough to push the FCC to allow the use of both fixed and mobile unlicensed devices.
Page gave no credence to the National Association of Broadcasters’ argument that the devices could impede the DTV transition, saying that was a fiction created by a debate that had been politicized and "did not deal with reality." The reality, he said, was that the TV spectrum was vastly underutilized thanks to spectrum-allocation policies that predated computers and needed to be updated, perhaps by requiring spare spectrum to be auctioned in real time.
Page said the NAB was simply pushing its own agenda, which was to keep the spectrum for its own use.
But Page has an agenda, as well. He conceded that his argument also went to Google's bottom line. The DTV spectrum is beachfront property for wireless. "There is a huge opportunity to make Wi-Fi work better,” he said, which "translates into faster speeds, more searches and more revenue for Google.
“Given the numerous device failures that have resulted during FCC testing,” NAB spokesman Dennis Wharton said, “it seems a little disingenuous for Mr. Page to simply dismiss the interference concerns that have been raised by not just TV broadcasters, but sports leagues, Broadway-theater groups, wireless-microphone manufacturers, religious organizations and roughly 70 members of Congress. Jeopardizing the future of digital television with an unproven technology would be unwise and unwarranted.”
"Interference would not be an issue for Google if it had followed through with the bidding and purchased 700 MHz spectrum. It did not." said David Donovan, head of the Association For Maximum Service Television, the broadcasters' spectrum watchdog. "Now it seeks to access spectrum for free, and 'share' it with a number of incumbent licensed services, including digital television. Never in the history of the FCC has the government sought to allow unlicensed devices at these proposed power levels into a band so heavily occupied with incumbent television users. Interference is always the issue whenever you try to 'share' spectrum," Donovan told B&C. "Generalized assertions about non-interference are no substitute for exhaustive engineering."
Google bid $4.6 billion in the FCC's 700 mHz spectrum auction for a block of spectrum it had successfully lobbied to have the FCC put open access conditions on. Google did not win the block, but Page conceded that he was just as happy that was the outcome, saying it had bid to make sure that those open access conditions remained in place. Had the minimum bid not been met, the spectrum might have been reauctioned without the conditions. Page said Google would have found something interesting to do with the spectrum if it had won it at that price, but it had other things it would rather be doing.
Why does Google want this space, to broadcast some more jihadi beheadings? I hope Sen. Lieberman notifies the FCC about Google support of terrorist propaganda on youtube, videos that graphically show throats being slit and burnt bodies from IED explosions. Google refuses to enforce their own ToS and remove these when common citizen report them. Google made a pathetic token effort to appease a US Senator! Google lies and should face charges for sedition.
Google search :^) for "youtube smackdown" to see what Google really permits.
Lance Daggar - 5/23/2008 1:17:00 PM EDT
Google has become the 1000-lb. gorilla/big brother of the net. First it cooperates with the Chinese censors. Then it cooperates in fishing expeditions that compromise privacy. Then it starts collecting personal medical records, saying it keeps data private "except" under certain circumstances. Now it wants to pollute DTV airwaves with unlicensed mobile devices that many tekkies believe will cause interference with DTV broadcast signals. Maybe Google is Big Cable's secret agent, who knows. But broadcasters/FCC, don't let this happen! Keep mobile devices far, far away from broadcast DTV.
Adam Smith - 5/23/2008 2:25:00 AM EDT
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