White spaces – recent comments

More than 25,000 comments have been filed with the FCC in the white spaces proceeding (search on 04-186 in the ECFS system on the FCC site).  Here are some recent highlights: 1.  The White Spaces Coalition ( Microsoft, Google, Dell, HP, Intel, Philips, Earthlink, and Samsung Electro-Mechanics) is worried about 11th-hour calls to eliminate any unlicensed use of the white spaces.  The Coalition points out that the only proposal for licensed use of the white spaces is coming in the form of “fixed point to point wireless backhaul” — the…

Google and the white spaces

The white spaces proceeding is the next big opportunity for experiments in alternative ways of providing wireless highspeed internet access. I’ve written about this here, here, here, and here. When the DTV transition happens in Feb. 2009, channels 2 through 51 will remain allocated for television transmission.  Few of the nation’s television markets actually use 49 channels.  Indeed, most use less than half of that number. :  The “white spaces” are these unused television channels, which amount to approximately 300 MHz of frequencies. According to Blair Levin, “[e]stimates vary, but most…

Follow the money

I’m on a panel next week that is nominally about virtual worlds but seems infinitely expandable, so I’m planning to talk about FCC regulation. It’s a Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! kind of approach. You’ll recall that a petition was filed earlier this fall asking that the FCC require email forwarding. There was even a frisson of Congressional interest. I went back and looked at the filed comments. You may have all thought this was a pretty silly petition, but Verizon, Time Warner, AT&T, NCTA, USISPA, ITIC, and a bunch…

This week in the white spaces

1. Very large Houses of Worship urge the Commission not to allow unlicensed use of the white spaces. They point out that they have sophisticated systems: Many houses have footprints larger than multiple football fields and hold pew-seating for worshipers in the thousands. Typical facilities may include a large stage for the pastor, and stages to accommodate hundred-person choirs, full orchestras, praise teams, a praise band, and complex sound systems. Our experienced technical staffs devote considerable time and effort in planning to ensure highquality productions including interference-free wireless microphone operation….

Friday in the white spaces

Things are heating up in the white spaces proceeding. The Commission will soon have to decide what to do. How will it deal with the conflicting technical evidence on interference, particularly given the abject failure of the Microsoft device last month? Is there a way to slice up the issue so as not to cut off later decisions about unlicensed portable devices? What impact should the broadcasters’ claims about not wanting to delay the DTV transition have, particularly given that the broadcasters themselves will end up (inevitably) delaying the transition…

Today in the white spaces

I spent a lot of energy writing this past summer about how important to experimentation unlicensed uses of the “white spaces” are. And if you search on this blog using “white spaces” you’ll see a number of breathless posts about how key this entire endeavor is. Now I know I’m right, because today the broadcast industry is marching on Capitol Hill, flags waving, guns booming, to make sure that no one ever gets to use these unused frequencies except them. Their battle cry (invented by me): “If we allow unlicensed,…

White spaces legislation

This happened earlier this year, but it’s still interesting. Rep. Bobby Rush, in whose district Shure (wireless microphones manufacturer) resides, introduced a bill that would put off even considering having mobile wireless devices in the white spaces until 2012. What would you do if you were a big online company that wanted to take advantage of the white spaces in an unlicensed way and route around the incumbents? Would you build a new prototype device and try to convince the FCC that the old one was just broken? Would you…

This week in the white spaces

Every once in a while I look in on the white spaces, to see how things are going. You’ll recall that the white spaces are unused, non-contiguous (“swiss cheese” ) frequencies between broadcast stations around the county. Commr. McDowell of the FCC has said that initial rules for the white spaces will be released sometime this fall. If the white spaces are made available on an unlicensed basis for use by opportunistic, “smart,” low-power mobile devices, entrepreneurial engineers will think of ways to use this wealth of spectrum (300 MHz…

The transition to digital and the death of common sense

Two news items interestingly connect today: First, the airing of Ken Burns’ new documentary, “The War,” is causing broadcasters some anxiety, because it contains four fleeting expletives. From SFGate.com: Many public broadcasters aren’t sure whether the FCC will fine public television stations for airing ‘The War,’ and the FCC hasn’t revealed its position. That uncertainty is placing the broadcasters in a difficult position. They must either show a documentary in a form other than the artist created, or risk getting hit with large fines for broadcasting naughty words. And the…