Google Goes for Broke on White Spaces

Google co-founder Larry Page did a whistle stop in Washington, D.C. this week to stump for white spaces. The Wall Street Journal reported that page met with members of Congress and hit up the FCC to seek the use of broadcast taboo channels for unlicensed devices.

Page said the spectrum, left mostly fallow to prevent co-interference between broadcast TV signals, would be useful for Wi-Fi. He said the position held by the National Association of Broadcasters was self serving; that the NAB wanted to “keep the spectrum for its own use.”

The NAB isn“t alone however. Wireless mic makers, Broadway producers and sports leagues also oppose allowing unlicensed devices into this buffer spectrum now known as “white spaces.” Those groups occasionally use the spectrum under highly coordinated circumstances.

The FCC has already approved the use of fixed unlicensed devices in white spaces, but the big push, particularly by Google, is for mobile devices. Opponents to mobile unlicensed devices fear that if they do interfere with TV signals or wireless mics, there would be no way to trace them, as with licensed devices.

For Google, the game is about creating a nationwide wireless network without spending a dime on infrastructure. The Silicon Valley search giant intensified its push for unlicensed devices just after failing to secure spectrum the usual way--through an auction at the FCC. With unlicensed devices, the company wouldn“t have to construct a nationwide network or even a single device, but simply market an operating system that it could license to others.