White Space Opens

           The next Broadway play you go see may sound a little more cracklier than you would like now that the white space used by wireless microphones will be opened up to big companies like Google and Verizon.

            The fight for the white has ended and the communication tycoons have made a big win.  White space will now be opened up for dozens of yet-to-be invented technical communication gadgets (proponents of the ruling argued that the freeing of the white would promote innovative technology similar to the way Wi-Fi did.  

            Google, Verizon, and other telecommunications companies launched a massive lobbying campaign to push the FCC to vote for the proposal.  Dolly Parton, rock musicians, federal sports leagues, Las Vegas casinos, Broadway groups and others have fought to keep the space unused, worried about interference.  But studies conducted by the FCC since 2004 claim that interference can be avoided by applying strict usage rules.

            Here is what a Washington lobbyist for Google had to say:

“This could lead to Wi-Fi on steroids,” said Richard Whitt, a Washington lobbyist for Google on telecommunications issues. “It could become a ubiquitous nationwide broadband network.” The battle between the old media and new media companies is a byproduct of an impending change in the way over-the-air TV signals are delivered. In February, TV stations will be required to switch from analog broadcasting to digital, which is less susceptible to radio interference.”


             Consumers will feel the impact of this decision, but no one really knows what the impact will be.  It has the potential to raise prices because in addition to the decision on white space, the FCC has allowed a merger of spectrum between Sprint and Clearwire that will create a nationwide WiMax network and approved Verizon’s $28.1 billion deal to buy Alltel. This creates two new wireless networks backed, in part, by Google.

             While a close monopoly on the communications industry could raise consumer prices, new technology that is expected to merge from the FCC vote will, most likely, introduce new ways to connect farther and more quickly than we’ve seen with WiFi.  


November 5, 2008. Uncategorized.

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