[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?
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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