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.”

Filed Under: , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Invasion Of The TV Snatchers? White Space Devices Will Kill Us All!”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
15 Comments
Haywood says:

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.

Haywood says:

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.

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Re: 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.

nipseyrussell says:

“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)

Wolfman says:

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!!

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »