Friday, August 22, 2008

FCC to decide on the white space debate

In the coming weeks Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is expected to decide on the usage of white space spectrum that could change wireless communication in the U.S. in the years to come. Well, what is is white space spectrum ? White space spectrum are the unlicensed radio waves that are left unused by (analog) TV broadcasters. These frequencies typically lie between licensed frequencies and are used to reduced interference between channels. Currently these radio frequencies are not used for anything other than the said purpose.

There are companies like Google, Microsoft, Motorola, Intel and Dell that want white space spectrum to be allowed for mobile device usage arguing that white space spectrum would provide a cheap means of covering the entire U.S. with wireless broadband. They have an economic case about their cause of getting enhanced wireless case to everybody as well as an economic interest in boosting their revenues.

There are the television broadcasters who are equally opposed to having white space devices saying that the move would affect their quality of service. They reason that the wireless devices utilizing white space would interfere with the channels as the devices don't know yet about interfering channels. This is an old debate that may well be decided one way these coming weeks. That the TV broadcasts are wholly going to be digital soon would tip the balance in favor of the proponents but the opponents might be able to stall the move at least until the FCC deadline of the move to digital TV.

Microsoft, Google, Motorola and others have formed the to promote the white spaces devices idea. NAB - the broadcasters' group presents the other view with There are a many recent developments like the geo-location database developed my Motorola which promises to solve the technical problems of mobile devices operating in the white space, but however the broadcasters do not want anything to do with it. This is going to be one hardfought debate for both sides and the outcome might be momentous for wireless access.


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