Google is stepping up its lobbying efforts in the white-space controversy. The search giant has launched a web site called, www.freetheairwaves.com, on which visitors can sign a petition urging the FCC to open up unused TV airwaves for super WiFi-like services that Google calls WiFi 2.0. The site clearly looks to get the common person involved in the debate, featuring You Tube videos that explain what white space is and urging the public to get involved.
"Remember that fuzzy static between channels on the old TVs? Today more than three-quarters of those radio airwaves, or "white space" spectrum, are completely unused. This vast public resource could offer a revolution in wireless services of all kinds, including universal wireless Internet," the web site states. "The FCC will soon decide whether to open this unused spectrum for general usage, and your voice matters--a lot. So if you agree that freeing the white spaces represents a vote for the future of the Internet, please sign our petition and help spread the word about this campaign."
Videos include testimony from Matthew Rantanen, director of technology for the Tribal Digital Village, which offers high-speed WiFi access to Native American communities in San Diego County, Calif., and three tribes in nearby Riverside. The big ISPs, Rantanen says, provide no service to these areas, "so we took it upon ourselves to take advantage of that and go get it ourselves." But while WiFi is a start, Rantanen explains, it only goes so far in these rural regions: "We need bigger pipe," he says. "White space opens that up. It drops the cost of end-user equipment. It increases the ability of us to broadcast, to not have intermediate repeating towers, to support going through a grove of trees." Users also can download their own YouTube video opinions on the issue.
The FCC is expected to report its findings on field tests it conducted this month of prototype white-space devices. Soon after, the commission is expected to take up the contentious issue of whether the spectrum can be used for unlicensed devices or whether they pose too much of an interference threat to television broadcasters and wireless microphone users.
Companies such as Google and Microsoft want to use this spectrum to develop new mobile communications devices. However, the initiative has raised the ire of the National Association of Broadcasters, which argues white-space devices may interfere with existing television broadcasts.
FCC expected to release white-space findings next month. White space story
White space debate won't be resolved with field testing. White space editorial
Motorola exec: FCC white space testing going well. Motorola white space story