Google’s creative white space

Since the close of the US 700MHz auction last week and the subsequent revelation of the winning parties, there’s been lots of talk about Google’s plans deliver wireless internet using spectrum between TV broadcast channels.

It’s known that Google, along with a collaboration of tech firms including Intel, HP, Microsoft, Philips and Dell, has been investigating the potential for this so called ‘white space’ for over a year now.

Last summer the collaboration, under the banner of the White Space Coalition, submitted a white space internet gadget to the FCC for testing. The platform could be used to deliver wireless broadband services using the ‘white space’ that separates TV and radio channels from one another.

But the prototype failed the FCC’s tests and caused interference on the TV channels. Microsoft promptly announced that the device was defective, which led to the poor results, however, its initial failure has given broadcasters enough of a stick to beat the technology with.

However, in a recent filing to the FCC, Google claims that it could use geo-location technology and protective beacons to eliminate any sort of interference and deliver “wifi 2.0” type capabilities in the white space.

There’s still a lot of questions to be answered, but Ovum analyst Jan Dawson, has this to say on the matter: “If Google’s technology is really as good as it suggests, it’s surprising that it didn’t secure some of that 700MHz spectrum through the auction, which would have obviated the need for petitioning the FCC. On the other hand, if its petition is successful, it will have saved several billion dollars. One thing is certain: if anyone can shake up the wireless market it’s Google, which will be a player in the device market whether its wireless technology makes it or not through the Android initiative.

“It will also be worth watching the relationships between Google and the various companies that are working with it on the white spaces effort in the Wireless Innovation Alliance. Although they have been able to find sufficient common ground so far to work together, Google’s partnership with Microsoft in particular, but also others such as Dell, will be stretched if the petition is approved because their differences in strategy and competitive pressures will pull them apart. But even then, Google seems likely to come out on top since its technology appears to have put it in the driving seat.”

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