November 5, 2008

Free the Airwaves

PrepShootPost explains "White Space" spectrum win in "WHITE SPACES" COULD BE OUR SPACES:

"We all know about the DTV transition, here in the US, in Feb. 2009. That's when our analog TV's will go black and all terrestrial video signals will be digitally broadcast. The thing is, those digital signals take up less space of the broadcast spectrum, about 70 percent less. These sections of the broadcast spectrum, previously crowded by terrestrial analog signals, will sit empty.

Since these "White Spaces" share the same spectrum as DTV, they aren't really "clean" enough for the FCC to sell for broadcasting licenses. They are kinda like the spaces between DTV signals, not really useful for broadcasters, just empty space. There was once another part of the spectrum that engineers called useless, they even nicknamed it "The Junk Band". It was the space filled with powerline and microwave oven emissions.

No one ever thought that anyone could do anything useful with it. This was the 2.4ghz to 5ghz range, and in 1985 the FCC said, "OK, you engineers, industrial tech folks and medical people, do whatever you want to with that useless junk band."*
And then boom, a decade later the "junk band" became "WiFi", and you know that story. This is why this idea of a free and open, and otherwise marginally useful slice of the spectrum is so exciting. Imagine WiFi but instead of covering a 50 foot radius, it covers hundreds of miles.

Where ever you can get a TV signal you can get seriously high-speed wireless internet."

Read the rest at PrepShootPost.

Bruce Johnson at PVC also writes about this in Any News on November 4th?, as does TechCrunch and, most importantly, Larry Page of Google.

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