Monday, August 18, 2008

Time to "Free the Airwaves"



(Cross-posted from the Official Google Blog)

For quite some time we've been talking about the potential of the unused airwaves between broadcast TV channels ("white spaces") to provide affordable, high-speed wireless Internet connectivity nationwide. For this to happen, the Federal Communications Commission must allow unlicensed use of this spectrum.

If you care about the future of the Internet, now is the time to take action. The FCC has completed its field testing and is expected to make a ruling in the coming months. With this in mind, today we're launching Free The Airwaves, a new effort to bring users together around this important issue.

To help you to learn more about the tremendous promise of these airwaves, people from around the country have filmed video testimonials. Matthew Rantanen of Tribal Digital Village explained how freeing the airwaves would bring new opportunities to the Southern California Native American community, currently underserved by today's broadband providers. Wally Bowen of the Mountain Area Information Network discussed the potential of these airwaves to bring broadband access to rural communities. Many others have also weighed in, and we hope you will too.

At its core, Free the Airwaves is a call to action for everyday users. You don't need to be a telecommunications expert to understand that freeing the "white spaces" has the potential to transform wireless Internet as we know it. When you visit the site, you'll be invited to film a video response explaining what increased Internet access could mean for you, to sign a petition to the FCC, to contact your elected officials, to spread the word, and more.

When it comes to opening these airwaves, we believe the public interest is clear. But we also want to be transparent about our involvement - Google has a clear business interest in expanding access to the web. There's no doubt that if these airwaves are opened up to unlicensed use, more people will be using the Internet. That's certainly good for Google (not to mention many of our industry peers) but we also think that it's good for consumers.

That said, we can't pretend to speak for you. To learn more about what's at stake and to get involved, check out FreeTheAirwaves.com. We hope that once you've explored the facts for yourself, you'll want to make your voice heard.

10 comments:

Rosalie said...

Are there any plans to also target the UK with your free the airwaves campaign?

Dave said...

Does anybody with more design skills than I have want to design a badge people can stick on their blogs/sites to promote this?

Richard said...

Too bad none of your videos show any of the downsides of your campain. While I understand all the sentiments used in pushing your ideas here, I don't think they are all genuine and they don't point out all the bad things.

1. One of the videos makes it sound like the Whitespaces are being released to the public. In fact that's not really true, it would likely be auctioned off to the highest bidder just like some of the other upper UHF TV bands were recently by the FCC. Who gets that money.. yep Uncle Sam. Who gets the bandwidth.. the hightst bidder.

2. No mention is made of the current users of the white space bandwidth. I am an audio professional. Guess what frequencies are used by almost all wireless micrphones these days. Yep.. unused UHF TV channels. By letting a bunch of consumer devices into this bandwidth you have essentially killed a bunch of wireless microphone technology. That doesn't seem like a big deal until you really think about all the places wireless mic technology is used. Politicians, your church, any Broadway or local theatre, any sporting event or live broadcast. You name it!

Well that's my $0.02..

Richard B. Ingraham

dave porter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dave said...

Can someone explain to me how this would be used for internet access?

I understand how I can get the wifi signal as it will be broadcast from some central point - but how will I send data upstream?

David Keefer said...

I am very upset with Google for taking this stand. What Google says is totally false. The "white spaces" are being used by every American every day. All of the wireless microphones and other wireless technology that is used in the entertainment and sports fields use these spaces and if they are successful in "freeing" these whitespaces our way of communicating will come to an almost complete stop. Wireless mics are used in TV, athlectic events, live theatre, political events,and the Olympics. Google is doing this to make more money and they do not care about the truth.I for one am contacting Google advertisers and letting my voice be heard, please join me.

mrgardon said...

If it's free... I'll take two.

Adam said...

A quote from http://news.cnet.com/8301-1035_3-10014456-94.html?hhTest=1
"Simply stated, the prototype devices were unable to consistently identify operating wireless microphones or distinguish occupied from unoccupied TV channels," said Mark Brunner, Shure's senior director of public and industry relations. "More troubling, the devices failed to detect the presence of wireless microphones when switched on--an occurrence that takes place multiple times during any NFL game."

I would be happy to support the "Free the Airwaves" campaign, but not at the risk of incumbent technologies.

Evansdsgn said...

> A quote from http://news.cnet.com/8301-1035_3-10014456-94.html?hhTest=1
"Simply stated, the prototype devices were unable to consistently identify operating wireless microphones or distinguish occupied from unoccupied TV channels," said Mark Brunner, Shure's senior director of public and industry relations. "More troubling, the devices failed to detect the presence of wireless microphones when switched on--an occurrence that takes place multiple times during any NFL game."


Google should not be allowed to monopolize ALL of the white space that is currently being used daily by others -- from your pastor/rabbi to Miley Cyrus to Barack Obama. Google needs to start being reasonable and stop being so greedy.

What Google wants is 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 w/o FCC intervention, 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.

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?

Let me ask you this? Do you like going to concerts? See a Broadway play. Perhaps? Go to a political rally maybe? Watch your 1st grader's recital in the school auditorium? If Google does what they want to do and take over ALL of the white space ALL of that will disappear. ALL of it. Oh you can try but instead of hearing Bruce Springsteen sing "Born to Run" you'll hear Brtiany and Kim's cell conversation about how Chloe is a skank. Or, instead of hearing your pastor's rousing sermon you'll be hearing some heavy metal band playing some street festival nearby.

While it has been in development for a couple of years, the replacement technology (ultrawideband and digital) for live sound does not yet exist and as you can see by the link that adam provided the technology to share the white space with those already using it does not yet exist.

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.

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