[FoRK] Using TV airwaves for internet

Udhay Shankar N <udhay at pobox.com> on Sun Mar 18 09:10:52 PDT 2007

Some raw bits, sent out mostly to get feedback from the folks here on 
this idea. Sounds interesting, and might even work. What do you think?

Udhay

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/12/AR2007031201395.html

Tech Firms Push to Use TV Airwaves for Internet
Cable, Phone Companies Watch Warily

By Charles Babington
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 13, 2007; Page D01

A coalition of big technology companies wants to bring high-speed 
Internet access to consumers in a new way: over television airwaves. 
Key to the project is whether a device scheduled to be delivered to 
federal labs today lives up to its promise.

The coalition, which includes Microsoft and Google, wants regulators 
to allow idle TV channels, known as white space, to be used to beam 
the Internet into homes and offices. But the Federal Communications 
Commission first must be convinced that such traffic would not bleed 
outside its designated channels and interfere with existing broadcasts.
	
The six partners -- Microsoft, Google, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Intel 
and Philips -- say they can meet that challenge. Today, they plan to 
give FCC officials a prototype device, built by Microsoft, that will 
undergo months of testing.

If the device passes muster, the coalition says, it could have 
versions in stores by early 2009.

Proponents liken the idea to so-called WiFi signals, which provide 
wireless Internet access from phone or cable companies to users in 
airports, coffee shops and elsewhere.

"These devices have the potential to take the success of the WiFi 
phenomenon to another level," said Jonathan S. Adelstein, an FCC commissioner.

Warily watching from the sidelines are the major telephone and cable 
companies that compete to bring high-speed Internet into millions of 
businesses and homes.

Telecommunications officials and analysts differ on the degree to 
which TV-spectrum-based Internet access might seriously threaten 
existing Internet providers.

Some said a new Internet provider might force the older companies to 
drop prices. Others said the available white-space spectrum might be 
too limited to make much of an impact.

Wireless carriers said they were not afraid of new rivals. "The 
wireless industry was born in a competitive environment," said 
Jeffrey Nelson, a Verizon Wireless spokesman, playing down the risk 
to his company. AT&T said in a statement that FCC rules "should 
protect not only current TV band incumbents from interference but 
also those services that will be introduced into adjacent spectrum" 
in the future.

Several analysts said a TV-spectrum system might make the most sense 
in rural areas, where high-speed Internet access via phone or cable 
lines is expensive to deploy. Small companies might build some 
towers, beam white-space spectrum to farm homes and cabins, and 
connect it to an Internet provider, they said.

In urban areas, a TV Internet system might somehow be combined with 
phone- or cable-provided Internet service to redirect signals through 
every wall of a house or office -- without replacing the phone or 
cable company as the provider, said a person affiliated with the 
coalition. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not 
authorized to speak on the record about such possible uses.

In a document filed with the FCC, the coalition stated: "As the 
world's largest producers of consumer electronics, software, 
semiconductors, personal computers, and peripheral devices, the 
Coalition's members stand ready to commit substantial resources to 
bring these advancements to consumers."

Google joined the coalition because the effort could create 
opportunities to transmit information over new platforms. It also 
might strengthen Google's hand should the traditional Internet 
pipelines -- big phone and cable companies -- start charging Internet 
companies higher prices to move their content more swiftly to consumers.

"It recognizes that the heart of the problem is a lack of competition 
on the broadband platform," said Rick Whitt, Google's telecom and 
media counsel in Washington. "We're very interested in finding ways 
to create platforms for other broadband connectivity."

Staff writers Sam Diaz and Alan Sipress contributed to this report.


-- 
((Udhay Shankar N)) ((udhay @ pobox.com)) ((www.digeratus.com))


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