by Carlo Longino

One Step Closer To Opening Up The White-Space Spectrum

from the filling-in-the-cracks dept

Technology often does a pretty decent job of making the most of scarce or finite resources. But one such resource -- wireless spectrum -- remains a problem not just because it's finite, but because the regulatory environment around it often can't keep up with technology. For instance, in the spectrum used by analog TV broadcasts, the FCC mandates that there be a buffer of unused spectrum around the frequencies licensed to broadcasters, so their signals don't interfere with each other. But as technology has improved, those buffers have become less important, and given the desirable properties of this spectrum, there has been a lot of talk about making this "white space" available as unlicensed spectrum. The FCC wants to make sure that doing so won't interfere with licensed broadcasts, and to that end, Microsoft, Google and some other tech companies have delivered an MS-made device for testing to the FCC, which they say shows that the white space can be utilized without creating any interference. The prototype will undergo a few months of tests, and a decision on opening the white spaces could be made as early as July. With the importance of wireless technology, and in turn, wireless spectrum, increasing by the minute, it's imperative that regulatory bodies like the FCC change their policies to account for ever-improving technology and to make as much of the finite resource of spectrum available as possible. And when that technology makes it possible to open up more unlicensed spectrum -- as white-space advocates propose -- that's even better.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased), Mar 13th, 2007 @ 1:30pm

    It will all be "white space" soon

    With the supposed discontinuation of analog tv broadcasts it would make sense that the spectrum should be used. If the FCC allows and companies are willing to test that spectrum for some future products it may reveal as soon as that spectrum is no longer used to send tv signals then why wait when there is money to be made.

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

  2. identicon
    a, Mar 13th, 2007 @ 1:37pm

    I would imagine if it can be proved that you can use white space, the FCC will gladly sell it to the highest bidder.

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

  3. identicon
    BillGod, Mar 13th, 2007 @ 1:37pm


    WOW I am just amazed that I am reading something about the FCC that actually has to do with WHY the FCC was created. Not fining people for saying boobs on the radio!

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

  4. identicon
    Lazy Slacker, Mar 13th, 2007 @ 1:48pm

    Re: WOW

    heh heh...he said "boobs" in the internet...heh heh, heh heh

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

  5. identicon
    Republican Gun, Mar 13th, 2007 @ 2:12pm

    Advanced Spread Spectrum Technology

    Devices and technology today easliy surpass regulations that were written decades ago. In the R/C community (remote control planes) buffers are important to keep planes from falling out of the sky. But now with sprectrum technology where a transmitter and reciever use all or any frequency for a half a millisecond to communicate, the buffer space is only needed for the old guys flying analog frequencies, just like the phone companies. No reason this tech can't be put into the television band spectrum. But then isn't analog technology going to be mothballed in 2009?

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

  6. identicon
    Tomatoe Tomah-toe, Mar 13th, 2007 @ 4:17pm

    boobs are on the tv but boobs are IN the internet?

    muy interesante...

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

  7. identicon
    Michelle Readman, Mar 13th, 2007 @ 4:22pm

    The BBC have been covering the UK side of this for


    In the UK, these buffer zones are already unlicenced, and have gained popular usage for radio microphone systems. However, with the sale of the analogue TV spectrum range approaching with the switch-over to digital TV, these unlincenced xones are at risk, threatening theatre productions.

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

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2007 @ 5:16pm

    Of course...

    Carlos, what you said is absolutely right but we shouldn't expect immediate change, and that's actually a good thing. Remember that one of the reasons for government bodies like the FCC, FDA, etc is to carefully regulate the growth of new and emerging technologies relevent to their particular area. Although it may seem slow to those of use in the techno-space, sometimes it's not always a bad thing for government to take their time and carefully examine pros and cons of any regulatory change.

    The best example I can thing of is the FDA. If they did more long term and comprehensive studies, maybe their wouldn't be so many ambulance chasing attorneys out there. On the other hand, I imagine there is a point where you have to stop doing the research and see how the implementation works.

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

  9. identicon
    Gregory B. Daly, Jun 5th, 2007 @ 1:17pm

    White Spaces

    I am a transmitter site expert. I have worked in every state for cellular, smr, fm, am, tv, lptv etc. The FCC uses several criteria for protecting existing RF operators. The first is simple spacing- in miles or meters, from the next use of the frequency and co-adjecent frequency and so on. The second is protectionist curves. The software module meses the level of desired and undesired signal signal which allows the engineer to draw a specific line in the sand if you will on where the dbu's reach maximum return for minimum interference. There are then brokered settlements. Here the lawyers cut a deal and you pay for the right to interfere up to a engineering specified amount.

    There are anomolies. They occur and they are not always predictable. Even if they are, there is generally not databases available for say, a particular model of UVAC that emits a low level noise that interferes with say, low band cellular or one of the blocks in PCS.

    The science is not complete here especially when you are dealing with highly localized interference issues.

    There there is the power politics of the issue. In this instance, it is the NAB vs the updates such as microsoft and google and company.

    Need a site expert.... there is a map i have not read...

    gregory daly

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

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads


Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.