White Space Spectrum

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Unused portions of the wireless spectrum, currently being hoarded, as explained by David Bollier.

URL = http://onthecommons.org/node/818


"Even as demand for WiFi and other unlicensed wireless Internet services soars, commercial broadcasters are trying to lock up some prime, unused slices of the public airwaves for themselves. Recall that the broadcasting industry is in the midst of making a transition from analog to digital television transmission – a move that Congress enabled by giving broadcasters two sets of spectrum for free, simultaneous use during the course of the transition, now slated to be completed by February 17, 2009.

But because broadcasters don’t need two sets of spectrum – for analog and digital signals -- Congress declared in December that unused spectrum between channels 52 and 69 should be put up for auction to commercial wireless services. The decisive question now is whether the broadcast industry will succeed in hanging on to unused spectrum by hoodwinking Congress and the FCC with bogus arguments.

In an attempt to blow the whistle on broadcasters’ deceptions, the New America Foundation’s Wireless Future Program has released a flurry of fact sheets and issue briefs to explain how the “white space" in the TV spectrum could be used much more efficiently, and for public benefit. It’s time for Congress and the FCC to step in and put an end to the political manipulations over who shall control the unused, unassigned portions of the “analog TV spectrum." (http://onthecommons.org/node/818)


"Back in 2008, after years of haggling with the broadcasting industry, the FCC finally voted unanimously to let a new generation of wireless gizmos access the internet using the gaps (“white space”) between television’s UHF channels.

When UHF television was introduced back in the 1950s, empty guard bands were added between each channel to prevent interference from stations broadcasting on adjacent channels. In some places, these white spaces amounted to as much as three-quarters of the bandwidth available for television broadcasting. Even in the busy Los Angeles television market, a third of the spectrum for analogue broadcasting lay idle.

In making white-space frequencies available for public access to the internet, the FCC hopes to spawn a wave of wireless innovation similar to the way Wi-Fi shook up the world of short-range data communications a decade ago. Given the longer range and greater penetrating power of television airwaves (that is why they were chosen for television in the first place), the FCC has taken to calling the proposed technology “Super Wi-Fi” (despite protests from the Wi-Fi Alliance, a trade association based in Austin, Texas, which manages Wi-Fi standards and owns the Wi-Fi trademark).

Be that as it may, what made Wi-Fi such a phenomenal success was the way companies with wireless know-how (many of them start-ups) saw an opportunity to exploit the IEEE 802.11 standard for wireless connectivity in mainly the unlicensed 2.4 gigahertz band used by microwave ovens, cordless phones, baby monitors and garage-door openers. Having seen a $50 billion Wi-Fi industry spring up from practically nothing, the FCC believes fervently that making unlicensed spectrum publicly available is one of the surest ways of spurring innovation." (http://www.economist.com/blogs/babbage/2012/02/beyond-wi-fi)

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