Invasion Of The TV Snatchers? White Space Devices Will Kill Us All!

from the a-little-over-the-top dept

The debate over white space spectrum has gone on for quite some time. Basically, the FCC handed out a ton of spectrum (for free, mind you) to TV broadcasters years ago. In order to prevent against interference, there's always been a requirement for some "buffer" space. However, as technology has improved, the need for this buffer space has decreased, and plenty of tech companies would be interested in making use of some of that basically unused spectrum by having it set aside as open spectrum. Earlier this year, some of those companies, led by Microsoft and Google, delivered a device to the FCC to test. Unfortunately, the device had some problems. However, the concept is sound -- and with some tweaking, it's quite reasonable that such a device could work without interfering with TV signals. But you wouldn't know that from broadcasters, who love to hoard their spectrum. Matthew Lasar writes in to note that in responding to the device, the broadcasters have gone way over the top in describing the horrible things that will happen if the white space is made available:
"Why would the FCC consider allowing millions and millions of these interference causing devices, like 'germs,' to spread throughout America with the ability to attack the TV receivers in people's homes, apartments, hotel rooms, hospital rooms, dormitories, etc., with no way for the owner of the TV set (the 'victim') to determine who was causing the 'illness' to his or her TV set?"
They also suggest that allowing this white space to be used would "risk the outrage of America's citizenry." Of course, it's important to remember that only a small percentage of TV watchers actually run this risk. The vast majority of TV owners in the US have cable or satellite TV -- meaning that they don't use the over-the-air broadcasts that use the spectrum in question. So, the "outrage" would be limited to the small group of people who still use over-the-air systems to watch broadcast TV and are close enough to a device that uses this white space in the unlikely situation when that device might temporarily interfere with their TV signals. But, apparently, with that tiny probability out there, opening up that white space is like a "germ" that will "attack" people's TVs, raising the "outrage of America's citizenry."


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Walter Cronkite, Oct 3rd, 2007 @ 6:28pm

    The Germs......

    are already on the TV - they're called programming. 99% of the stuff on TV would be cause for vaccination if it were breathable. Except for Fox News. The only place where truth lives.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Phlatus the Elder, Oct 3rd, 2007 @ 7:21pm

    Re: The Germs......

    > Except for Fox News. The only place where truth lives.

    I see you've been contaminated.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Haywood, Oct 3rd, 2007 @ 7:38pm

    I'd be annoyed

    I'm a member of that small percentage group both by choice and circumstance. No cable available here, and I'm more than contented with OTH. Why should the FCC allow that to be taken away because it isn't a problem for the masses. The CB radios and such interfere enough. Manufacturing tolerances will slip as production ramps up and the first thing those of us dependant on OTH will be screwed.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Victor, Oct 3rd, 2007 @ 7:49pm

    Free TV Bands

    Aren't the free TV bands up for auction by the FCC?
    If so then this issue woud be moot.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 3rd, 2007 @ 8:52pm

    "Except for Fox News. The only place where truth lives."


    If you believe that "truth" lives on or in ANY media organisation I have this really nice bridge you might want to buy.

    BTW, did you know that the word "gullible" is not listed in any dictionary!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    cojaka, Oct 3rd, 2007 @ 9:52pm

    Re:

    I'm pretty sure he was being sarcastic....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 3rd, 2007 @ 10:44pm

    "I'm pretty sure he was being sarcastic...."

    Yeah, maybe ....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    jonny, Oct 3rd, 2007 @ 11:08pm

    guullable isn't in the dictonary?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
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    Haywood, Oct 4th, 2007 @ 6:45am

    Still annoyed

    "The vast majority of TV owners in the US have cable or satellite TV -- meaning that they don't use the over-the-air broadcasts that use the spectrum in question. So, the "outrage" would be limited to the small group of people who still use over-the-air systems to watch broadcast TV" So the vast majority of people drive cars and trucks, so just feel free to run over the motorcycles.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    nipseyrussell, Oct 4th, 2007 @ 8:55am

    "So the vast majority of people drive cars and trucks, so just feel free to run over the motorcycles."

    yep, i too think fuzzy tv channels are comparable to head trauma, lost limbs, disfiguring burns, and death

    perhaps a more apt road-based analogy is that most roads are designed to accommodate cars (majority) and not horse and buggies (minority)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    icon
    Derek Kerton (profile), Oct 4th, 2007 @ 10:06am

    Some Still Use OTA

    Those that use Over The Air broadcasts of TV:

    - make up about 10% of TV-watching households

    - have voted with their wallets NOT to pay for Cable TV, NOT to pay for satellite, etc. They have self-segregated themselves as people for whom TV is relatively unimportant.

    - would probably see no interference from the use of whitespace (needs to be tested and verified, which is what is actually happening).

    So how much should government sacrifice in order to guarantee these people ongoing reruns of Everyone Loves Raymond? I'd say little. In my opinion, there should be
    NO broadcast of TV OTA. It is a waste of a massive swath of the very best spectrum, which could be liberated for mobile communications instead.

    With cable, FiOS Telco TV, satellite, NetFlix, and the Internet, there are many other ways for people to get mass media into their homes. It's only momentum that keeps this wasteful allocation in public policy.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Mad Max, Oct 4th, 2007 @ 1:25pm

    Re:

    It is in my Oxford American Dictionary...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 4th, 2007 @ 3:47pm

    "It is in my Oxford American Dictionary..."


    Oh, the irony. It's wonderful.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Bravest343, Aug 27th, 2008 @ 12:33am

    Is the defenition "Stick to the topic" in the dictionary!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Wolfman, Oct 23rd, 2008 @ 3:15pm

    What is missed here is that it is not only the OTH TV signals that would be affected, it other devices that use this spectrum as well. What most of the broadcasters are concerned with is interference to wireless microphones and other professional audio and transmission equipment operating in this spectrum. Many people will be upset if there are audio dropouts from pro football and baseball games due to interference. The bottom line is it is all about making money for all of these companies that are looking to get these spaces. So you will not be able to get OTH TV anymore, but you can pay to get OTH TV to your cell phone. Yeah that makes complete sense!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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