Trying to Google up some white space


MSTV President David L. Donovan points out that interference wouldn’t be a problem for Google if it had bothered to bid for some of the 700 MHz spectrum recently put on the auction block by the FCC. But it remains a problem in the cracks between television stations known as white spaces, since nobody has yet demonstrated a device which can operate there safely.

Google’s Larry Page was recently in Washington drumming up support for unlicensed low-power white space devices. He said the issue has "… really been politicized,” noting that if allowed more people would have better internet access. “If we have 10 percent better connectivity in the U.S., we get 10 percent more revenue in the U.S., and those are big numbers for us.”

MSTV’s Donovan said Google’s proposition is nothing more than a play for free spectrum, and that the interference problems are not at all exaggerated. “Interference is always the issue whenever you try to ‘share’ spectrum,” he said. “Generalized assertions about non-interference are no substitute for exhaustive engineering. Of course, Google did not submit a device to undergo the rigors of FCC testing.  Even Google can’t ‘wish away’ the laws of physics.”

RBR/TVBR observation: We have repeatedly questioned the wisdom of even playing around with white spaces at this point in the DTV transition. This time, we’ll let Donovan make the point. He said, “Its easy for Google to call this a red herring, but then again it has every thing to gain, and it will not have to answer complaints from viewers and constituents. Policy makers will soon have to make a choice.  I hope that they will not disenfranchise millions of consumers that just purchased new digital television sets or government subsidized converter boxes.”