Over the past week, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) has bombarded Congress with a flurry of doomsday pronouncements, claiming broadcast television is under attack by the FCC and advocates seeking to open unused TV channels (TV white spaces) for wireless broadband and mobile Wi-Fi devices.
If all of this sounds a bit familar, that is because the NAB used a similar argument in 1974 to try and kill off a nascent service called cable television and poured millions of dollars into a campaign to "Save Free TV." Thanks to YouTube we have this little advertising gem that appeared in movie theaters throughout the country.
In a last ditch effort to derail the opening of vacant TV channels for unlicensed broadband and innovation, TV band incumbents have begun beating the drums for an auction, claiming there is a pot of gold in the "Swiss cheese" spectrum that separates local DTV stations. A new working paper, released by New America's Wireless Future Program explains why these claims are fool's gold that would result not only in a failed auction and negligible revenue, but the continued waste of invaluable TV band spectrum.
Wasted White Space
Rather than a windfall, a one-time auction of licenses useful for commercial services would provide negligible revenue to the Treasury, while simultaneously ensuring that most of this unused "beachfront" spectrum will remain unused, stifling innovation that could generate far more long-term economic growth and benefits. Given the need for expanded interference protections for higher-power licensed use, many of thethe nation's most populous metropolitan areas would have little or no useable white space available for an auction.
From Wireless Design Online:
The IEEE Communications Society (ComSoc), the leading worldwide professional organization dedicated to the advancement of communications technologies, will host the International Dynamic Spectrum Access Networks (DySPAN) symposium from October 14th to 17th in Chicago, Illinois at the Millennium Knickerbocker Hotel.
This year, more than 300 economists, engineers, network architects, researchers and academic scholars from the United States, Europe and Asia are expected to discuss the decentralized access of the radio spectrum, its operation in wider bandwidths and the ability to process large amounts of information, while making intelligent decisions. Highlighted during the event will also be the ways in which international regulators can capitalize on these advances to increase spectrum utilization and foster future wireless communications and networks.
In a recent post on their public policy blog, Google expands upon their geolocation proposal for the television white spaces:
We believe it's possible to marry the benefits of mobile devices for consumers with the protection of fixed devices for TV broadcasters and other incumbent users of this spectrum (including wireless microphones) -- in part by using geolocation technology that would prevent a white space device from transmitting over channels that are in use.
Some observers, particularly in the public interest community, have asked whether geolocation might compromise the promise of the TV white spaces, particularly with regard to "mesh networks." Happily, this need not be the case. In a new white paper, we explain how our proposals can provide the protections afforded to incumbent users by geolocation, without significantly limiting the promise of mesh networks. We also describe how this technology can support use by the public service community in times of natural disasters and in other emergency situations.