After Hours

Google wants in to the television "white space"

Google failed to be a player in the FCC auction that recently ended. Indeed, it was described as the "happy losers" in the 700 MHz space, only having been able to secure "open" definitions to insure that third-party apps would have consideration in that space -- something that we still don't know how will work.

Google failed to be a player in the FCC auction that recently ended. Indeed, it was described as the "happy losers" in the 700 MHz space, only having been able to secure "open" definitions to insure that third-party apps would have consideration in that space -- something that we still don't know how will work.

Now, Google is angling for the television space, arguing that the unused spectrum between broadcast TV channels should be used.

From the LA Times:

Google turned its attention to TV "white spaces" after it failed to win any spectrum in the recent auction by the Federal Communications Commission that raised $19.1 billion. Analysts said the company probably did not want to win any of that spectrum. Google provided the minimum $4.6-billion bid on a large nationwide group of spectrum licenses ultimately won by Verizon Wireless in an effort to ensure that those airwaves be required to be open to any device or software.

Such open access would allow Mountain View, Calif.-based Google to deliver ads to people surfing the Web on their cellphones and tap into the wireless market without spending billions of dollars to license the spectrum and build towers to transmit the signals.

"Right now they don't think they need to own a network," said Blair Levin, an analyst with brokerage Stifel, Nicolaus & Co., who called Google the "happy loser" in the auction.

Google and other large technology firms, including Microsoft Corp. and Dell Inc., want the FCC to open up the white spaces for use by portable gadgets, creating a sort of WiFi on steroids. "This is a large amount of untapped spectrum and you've got people in Silicon Valley and lots of smart entrepreneurs just itching to find ways to use it," said Richard Whitt, Google's Washington telecom and media counsel.

FCC officials are intrigued by the possibilities and have been testing sample devices to see if they could sense and avoid TV signals. The results have been mixed.

While the possibilities are intriguing, the reality may be unwanted interference in the digital television band. There is a possibility of interference with wireless microphones, such as the ones used for concerts and sporting events that also use the "white space."

All in all, it's an interesting debate. Could it be that the "happy loser" is a big winner after all?

More information:

Google's plans for the space between your TV channels (BusinessWeek)

Google: A cry for WiFi (Motley Fool)

Google plan would open TV band for wireless use (NY Times)

2 comments
rooivaulk
rooivaulk

very interesting, Google is taking over the consumer market. And dragging Apple along with it out of it's overpriced underpowered days too a new era of technological evolution. My solution? Stick with Microsoft and Linux, but still use google.

Tig2
Tig2

Google failed to be a player in the recent FCC auction but is now angling for a place that wasn't considered in the auction- the 700 MHz band "white space". Google has a reputation for getting what they want from the FCC. But have they gone too far?