Friday, August 22, 2008

"The Promise of Municipal Broadband" & white spaces



Free Press' Craig Aaron has written an excellent article on the current state of municipal broadband in the United States. With the closing of Philadelphia's city-wide Wi-Fi project and some similar networks started by local governments, municipal broadband has gotten a bad rap publicly. But, as Aaron explains, it's a bum rap:
"A closer look at what’s happening at projects across the country -- public and private, wired and wireless, big and small -- suggests that it’s far too early to start the funeral arrangements. Much of the media are confusing the collapse of one company -- or one model of broadband deployment -- with the failure of the entire idea of municipalities providing high-speed Internet services."
Rather than prematurely writing off the idea, it's important to critically study municipal networks' successes and shortcomings. As we've written about before, America generally lags behind the rest of the developed world in broadband penetration and speeds, and we ought to be exploring many different solutions, both private and public, to bring fast, affordable Internet access to everyone. The more experimentation, innovation, and competition in broadband deployment, the better.

Aaron considers some lessons we can learn from municipal broadband so far, and suggests how policymakers can clear a path for more innovation in this space. One of them is freeing the TV white spaces, enabling anyone to make use of these vacant radio airwaves and develop wireless Internet services. We believe this technology holds particular promise for those tens of millions of Americans living in more rural areas, and other underserved regions of the country. Earlier this week, we launched a campaign to help educate the public, and give ordinary consumers a voice on this critical policy issue. If you want to learn more, please visit FreeTheAirwaves.com.

9 comments:

Luke said...

As part of the way to spread the word on this petition, I know the best way for me would be to have a facebook profile badge that links to the petition. Just posting the link causes the information to get buried, but a badge would keep it constantly on top. If you made it, I know I'd use it.

Evansdsgn said...

Well, this sounds all well and good but how about wireless mics? These mics that your favorite politician, entertainer, pastor/rabbi, etc uses on a hourly basis uses the same spectrum that Google is referring to. Why isn't Google talking about what will happen at the Madonna concert when she fires up her wireless and the mic picks up somebody's cell call instead. What about the next time Obama speaks into his wireless mic and you get to hear Rush Limbaugh instead. THis isn't as sweet and simple as Google paints it....do your homework before signing the petition.

buzz said...

> Well, this sounds all well and good but how about wireless mics?

Most such wireless mic usage is unlicensed and unlawful and the chickens are finally coming home to roost. The wireless mic industry did not feel the need to innovate or find a proper legal home for its products and now is in a fix. The correct course of action is for wireless mic users to migrate to digital and ultrawideband systems, now available from manufacturers who see the writing on the wall. Neither conventional broadcasters nor wireless mic users should be permitted to hold up additional uses of underutilized spectrum.

Evansdsgn said...

> Most such wireless mic usage is unlicensed and unlawful and the chickens are finally coming home to roost.

Gee Buzz, do you think that the "nah nah nah nah nah" attitude is helpful in any way, shape or form? This is a very serious problem for thousands of people who make their living in the sound industry and this issue needs an amicable solution.


> The wireless mic industry did not feel the need to innovate or find a proper legal home for its products and now is in a fix.

The wireless mic industry (and all other wireless devices currently being used by the sound industry) has been using these spectrums for something like 30 years and the FCC has allowed it to happen. Things like this cannot be changed overnight. Unfortunately Google got a whiff of a potentially huge profit stream and is bullying their way into monopolizing the entire white space instead of trying to work with the folks who currently use those spectrums (i.e.: every event/sports/entertainment venue in the US, every church and synagogue, most courthouses and government buildings, etc) to find a way to share that space or even a reasonable timeframe to phase out the current users. Google wants it all, they want it now and to hell with anyone who gets in the way.


> The correct course of action is for wireless mic users to migrate to digital and ultrawideband systems, now available from manufacturers who see the writing on the wall.

You're right but that takes time, money and technology. I don’t know where you got your info about manufacturers having digital and ultrawideband products available but the only manufacturer that has an ultrawideband product is Audio-Technica which works fine for boardrooms but it is not robust enough for live events. As far as digital there's only X2 and they are only making guitar products that only have 5 channels (as opposed to the needs of a large production like a concert or sporting event that needs 25-100 channels) and it is not in stereo. Again, this takes time, money and technology.


> Neither conventional broadcasters nor wireless mic users should be permitted to hold up additional uses of underutilized spectrum.

Nor should Google be allowed to monopolize ALL of the white space that is currently being used by others that have been using it without a problem for three decades. Google needs to be reasonable and stop being so greedy.

Lastly, do you think it's really fair to tell the small sound company owner that has invested $100k in equipment that as of February 09 the stuff is useless and offer him no solutions, rendering him w/o any way to make a living simply because Google's CEO wants to make another couple of billion dollars on top of the $13 billion he's already worth?

So Buzz, let me get this straight. What you are saying is that we need to tell EVERY church, synagogue, public and private school, non-profit organization, government building, sports complex, entertainment hall, live event venue, convention hall, every single sound company, every musician, politician, and public speaker, etc. that uses current wireless devices that have been in use in some form for three decades, to throw it away come Feb 09 and buy new equipment that doesn’t yet exist in these troubling economic times simply because Google wants to make a few more billions to add to their already incredibly deep pockets.

Let me ask you this? Do you like going to shows? Go to a concert? See a Broadway play. Perhaps? Go to a political rally maybe? If Google does what they want to do and take over all of the white space ALL of that will disappear. ALL of it. The ultrawideband and digital technology for live sound does not exist.

And if you haven't noticed we are in hard economic times...except for Google of course....so sorry but those of us who eek out a living in the live sound industry just can’t roll over and let the big Goliath that is Google take away our livelihood.

joebobzen said...

Bravo evansdsgn! Once again it seems that another company (Google) that started out with some degree of altruistic intent has succumbed to THE GREED. THE GREED renders the corporation blind to plights such as yours and all the entities you so eloquently mention in your rebuttal. Reread this petition, people, see it for what it really is, and tell your congressman you want the FCC to do their job and NOT become another corporate puppet. Wake up to what the corporations are trying to shove down our throats.

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