Votes are in: White space wins

In Thursday's IT Blogwatch, we're watching the FCC let go of the white space. Not to mention songs of outer space...

SJVN sees big change a comin':

Obama won the election, but for technology, in the short run at least, the even bigger voting news was that the FCC, by a vote of five to zero, had unanimously approved the conditional unlicensed use of white-space television spectrum.


Besides just opening up rural areas for broadband, anything that delivers higher speed, and competes with the existing broadband providers with their caps and restrictions has to be a good thing. The U.S. has dropped to the second-tier of Internet using countries. It's time all of us were shifted up to faster Internet speeds and the freeing up of the 700Mhz spectrum will be a big help in that direction.


Brennon Slattery sees a distant galaxy:

The sky is no longer the limit. With wireless soon becoming massively available, any and every device you can think of could become Internet capable, putting a universe of information at your fingertips. Your wildest sci-fi dreams of interconnectivity may soon come true.


Priya Ganapati sees both sides:

'White spaces' refers to the unused bits of spectrum between UHF television channels, which will no longer be needed when the United States abandons analog television broadcasting and goes all-digital in February, 2009.


The FCC's latest decision means technology companies such as Google, Intel Motorola, Phillips and Dell -- which lobbied to "free the spectrum" so they could build data services on it -- will emerge as big winners.

Telecom carriers such as Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and Comcast will feel the pain and be forced to adapt to a new reality, say analysts.


But Stacey Higginbotham read the fine print:

When the FCC approved the technology, it included some interesting caveats. Among them, low-power devices that use geolocation to avoid interference with television channels and microphones will be required to undergo the typical FCC certification process to get a seal of approval for devices. This is great for Motorola, which manufactures geolocation sensing products, but makes consumer deployment more complicated because someone has to host the database and keep it up to date..

Cade Metz knows who's on first:

The plan was originally floated by a coalition of big-name tech outfits, including strange bedfellows Google and Microsoft. Goosoft hopes that opening the white spaces - portions of the television spectrum unused by active channels - will mean more people looking at online ads.

From the very beginning, TV broadcasters have opposed the plan, claiming net-happy white spaces devices will mess with grandma's football. And their complaints were echoed by the wireless microphone industry, which has already set up shop in the white spaces.

Along the way, anti-Goosoft lobbyists enlisted the help of countless wireless mic lovers, including mega-preacher Rich Warren and country music hall of famer Dolly Parton, who warned that white space devices may have "direct negative impact" on Dollywood, the Grand Ole Opry, and "9 to 5: The Musical."


Nate Anderson heard that:

Everyone took care to stress their commitment to an interference-free rollout, and the FCC will pay special attention to interference concerns relating to broadcast TV and wireless microphones as the devices are introduced. It will also be certifying devices before they can be sold and drawing up the necessary operational standards for them over the next several months..

Larry Dignan congratulates the winners:

Intel: The chip giant is hands-down a big winner. Like Wi-Fi–and now WiMax–Intel will make chips with technology embedded to take advantage of this spectrum.

Google: Let me get this straight: Google prods the FCC to open up the airwaves. It enters bidding for 700 Mhz spectrum, jacks up the auction prices for carriers, doesn’t actually bid and now gets handed spectrum that’s arguably more valuable. Nice job, Google. .


And finally...

Buffer overflow: Other Computerworld bloggers:

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Our humble Blogwatcher, Richi Jennings, is on holiday. In his absence, you're in the capable hands of the Computerworld editorial staff. Today's post was concocted by Ken Gagne and Joyce Carpenter.

Previously in IT Blogwatch:

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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