Less than a week after the FCC closed the 700 MHz spectrum auction, Google is urging the commission to open up TV signal white spaces, or portions of unused spectrum between channels, for use with wireless devices.
Google wrote the commission, “As Google has pointed out previously, the vast majority of viable spectrum in this country simply goes unused, or else is grossly underutilized. Unlike other natural resources, there is no benefit to allowing this spectrum to lie fallow.”
The FCC is currently investigating use of wireless devices over white spaces to ensure technology viability and to calm broadcasters fears that using white spaces won’t interfere with TV signals.
Google, as well as other tech companies, including Motorola, Microsoft, Intel and Dell, have been lobbying the FCC to test the use of white spaces for unlicensed wireless access, saying the slices of unused spectrum could provide ubiquitous wireless broadband access to consumers from New York city to rural North Carolina. However, broadcasters have lobbied against the idea, saying that Internet service could interfere with TV signals.
The FCC announced plans to begin the second round of white spaces tests in January, after tests run last year failed due to a faulty prototype device. The commission has not yet released any results from its current round of testing.
Google, in its letter to the commission, said that opening up use of white spaces for wireless broadband access would create “much-needed competition” within the wireless space, a claim that sounds familiar to its plea for open access provisions to be included on the largest swath of national spectrum up for sale at the recent 700 MHz auction. While Google was successful in lobbying the FCC to include the open access provisions on a swath of spectrum, the largest auction winners were not new to the wireless industry. Verizon Wireless walked away with the coveted C-block of spectrum, though it did bid high enough for the open access provisions to kick in. AT&T was the second biggest winner at the auction.