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Work on using spectrum white spaces to deliver more broadband continues

In 2008, after years of largely ignoring pleas to open up the "white space" -- gaps in the spectrum between television channels, for wireless broadband use -- the Federal Communications Commission on November 4 decided to at last open the gates to this unused space.  Electronics giants like Google and Microsoft hailed the decision as a great victory.  

Google's co-founder Larry Page states, "I've always thought that there are a lot of really incredible things that engineers and entrepreneurs can do with this spectrum.  As an engineer, I was also really gratified to see that the FCC decided to put science over politics. For years the broadcasting lobby and others have tried to spread fear and confusion about this technology."

Unfortunately, the FCC tied the measure to open white space into the digital television switchover bill, with TV providers being required to simultaneously turn off analog, switching to digital, and at the same time opening up their white spaces.  This transition was recently delayed by Congress due to concerns that millions of citizens had been unable to get vouchers to make their analog TV sets digital-ready.

Despite this setback, industry leaders remain optimistic and are moving ahead, creating a working group named the White Spaces Database Group to hash out the technical details of white space use.  The working group consists of the giants in the tech industry, with Comsearch, Dell, Google, HP, Microsoft, Motorola and NeuStar as its founding members.  The group is working to create the database that the government will use to govern and regulate white space when it comes online on June 12, after the delay ends.

Richard Whitt, Google's Washington telecom and media counsel, states, "We don't plan to become a database administrator ourselves, but do want to work with the FCC to make sure that a white spaces database gets up and running. We hope that this will unfold in a matter of months, not years.  In the coming weeks and months, members of the group will be offering to the Commission their perspectives, and some specific recommendations, about the technical requirements we would like to see adopted for the database."

White space usage will vary by location, so the database will help white space devices cooperate, spotting unused sections of their local white space spectrum.  In order to protect against interference, the FCC is also requiring that all devices using the white space be certified and that they be designed to detect wireless microphones and avoid interfering with them.

The interference provisions are largely an effort to silence criticism from professional audio and communications hardware makers, as well as broadcasters, who claimed opening white space would interfere with their equipment.  FCC testing contradicted such fears, but the FCC is still trying to be sensitive on the topic.

Explains FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, "Normally, the Commission adopts prospective rules about interference and then certifies devices to ensure they are in compliance.  Here, we took the extraordinary step of first conducting this extensive interference testing in order to prove the concept that white space devices could be safely deployed."





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Since when does "most" count?
By acase on 2/6/2009 10:47:25 AM , Rating: 5
quote:
And as most know, this transition was recently delayed by Congress due to concerns that millions of citizens had been unable to get vouchers to make their analog TV sets digital-ready.


I bet I know 6.5 million who don't!




RE: Since when does "most" count?
By Spivonious on 2/6/09, Rating: 0
RE: Since when does "most" count?
By bissimo on 2/6/09, Rating: 0
RE: Since when does "most" count?
By omnicronx on 2/6/09, Rating: 0
RE: Since when does "most" count?
By bissimo on 2/6/2009 5:43:31 PM , Rating: 2
I do like the content of most of the stories on the site. It's a nice place to keep up-to-date with what's going on in technology. I just think they could add a lot of credence to their site if they would be a little more careful to not editorialize so much.
Most stories on the site look like blog entries. I take it with a grain of salt and don't expect every fact I read here to have been checked by an editor.


By Spivonious on 2/6/2009 12:50:02 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, a few years ago when they started out. Then they hired a few writers who like to show that they have no training in journalistic writing.


RE: Since when does "most" count?
By acase on 2/6/2009 11:23:05 AM , Rating: 2
Uhh, wasn't saying that at all. Just making a joke. It will be okay, I promise.


RE: Since when does "most" count?
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 2/6/2009 11:06:36 AM , Rating: 5
They know. There's a difference between knowing about the delay and getting off your ass and doing something about it.

All of these people have known about this switch for years and have been slow to react. That's why we're in the position we're in now.

I mean, screw the coupons -- how long have the converter boxes been available? Over a year? If you can't pull together $40 to $50 over the course of 1+ years to pay to keep your "beloved" TV working, then maybe you don't need TV.


RE: Since when does "most" count?
By joey2264 on 2/6/09, Rating: 0
RE: Since when does "most" count?
By Judguh on 2/6/2009 11:34:58 AM , Rating: 2
Even on my little wage, I could afford to put at least $2 a side per MONTH to save up for this moment as should most of the people in america that own a tv been able to.


By The Will on 2/6/2009 11:39:08 AM , Rating: 2
Seriously, how many people even watch TV over the air? Also this has been years in the making.

Does the word deadline mean anything?


By theapparition on 2/6/2009 11:39:15 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
While this delay will be painful, it is necessary.

I completely disagree. What percentage of those people will actually do anything in the next 4 months?
This change has been in the works for 10 years (planning for 20). There was already a 3 year delay. Sometimes, the only way to get people to do anything is to force them to.


By omnicronx on 2/6/2009 11:49:00 AM , Rating: 2
While of course there will be some that fit into this category, but I think you are making a generalization here that is probably not the case. The vast majority of people using OTA signals are those living in large cities, in which they get a large amount of channels without paying anything, (i.e casual TV view) and those that live in rural areas of the country where they have a choice between satellite or OTA.

Personally I don't watch that much TV, if I lived in a rural area I would not pay for satellite, but I am far from being 'poor'.


RE: Since when does "most" count?
By DrKlahn on 2/6/2009 1:12:38 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
While this delay will be painful, it is necessary.


Rubbish. Their radio still works for emergency information. TV is not a right and there was no contract ensuring analog broadcasts when the TV was purchased. As the other poster mentioned, saving up $50 over the course of a year should not be insurmountable. If these people couldn't be bothered to pay attention to the TV tickers, ads, and other warnings it's very likely the only thing they will pay attention to is their screen going black. Which means June will likely be as painful as February would have been.

It's also important to note that the bill doesn't require that analog broadcast continue past the original deadline. Every station in my area is still broadcasting the original cutoff date. So for some this will not keep their sets from going dark. It just extends using our tax dollars to buy luxury items for people. How wonderful.


By Reclaimer77 on 2/7/2009 11:07:51 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
You do know that it is generally the poorest and most vulnerable that still rely on analog antennas?


And ? Your point is ?


RE: Since when does "most" count?
By theapparition on 2/6/2009 11:42:44 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
They know.

Sorry Brandon, but I guarantee your giving too much credit. Uninformed will always stay that way, no matter how much education you try and push.

After the delay, there still will be plenty who don't know, so as you and I know, what did this delay actually accomplish?


RE: Since when does "most" count?
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 2/6/2009 11:45:39 AM , Rating: 2
I just find it hard to believe that people who watch TV have not seen at least one advertisement talking about the switchover.

I have cable and I see commercials at least once a day during primetime. During all of 2008, I literally saw hundreds of commercials regarding the switch.

So I have a hard time believing that these people don't know what's going on.


RE: Since when does "most" count?
By omnicronx on 2/6/2009 11:54:04 AM , Rating: 2
I agree, there is one thing to not know the specifics of how exactly DTV works, but it is entirely another to say that people who watch TV on a regular basis (i.e those that will have a problem with the shutdown) didn't know of the deadline.

Whether or not they decided not to ask someone more knowledgeable is another matter, but to say they didn't know that the big letters crossing the screen saying 'WARNING YOUR TV WILL NOT WORK AFTER THIS DATE' meant? I just don't believe that, not for a second.


RE: Since when does "most" count?
By theapparition on 2/6/2009 1:17:04 PM , Rating: 4
Sorry, but I've dealt with stupid before, and I can guarantee that there are those who still are oblivious. But that's still my point, no matter how much you try and educate and/or delay, provide coupons, go door to door, etc. It won't matter. There will always be some who just don't get it.

OK, I'll tell a dumb story. A friend (and yes, it really was a friend) had a pron mag out when his grandmother walked in the room. She picked the mag up and saw a picture of a beautiful girl with "a mouth full". His grandmother's response "Oh, that's a really nice picture of Krissy (his girlfriend), except you shouldn't have taken it while she was eating". Grandmom put the mag down and blissfully walked out.

That's who missing the DTV switch, and no amount of delays will fix it.


RE: Since when does "most" count?
By Zoomer on 2/7/2009 7:33:09 PM , Rating: 2
Long sightedness saves the day! That doesn't mean anything, since it could be just her vision that was failing.


RE: Since when does "most" count?
By Screwballl on 2/6/2009 11:46:18 AM , Rating: 2
that is why I am happy to hear that some stations that are ready are making the switch.. there are one or two local stations in northwest FL and southern AL that switched on Feb 1, and the rest have stated they plan to make the switch anyways Feb 17.

The passed bill only delays the "required switch by" date, stations can switch to digital (if they are ready) anytime they like.


By omnicronx on 2/6/2009 11:55:53 AM , Rating: 2
Perhaps they shutdown the analogue broadcasts as of the 1st, but they cannot ramp up digital transmissions until Feb 17th.

i.e the signal strength of the DTV transmission has not increased yet.


By kattanna on 2/6/2009 11:33:17 AM , Rating: 3
it seems most TV stations will be stopping analog broadcasts anyways on feb 17

http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/2009-02-06-digit...




Let's get going already.
By RolfSchewe on 2/6/2009 11:34:49 AM , Rating: 2
This actually seems trivial to me. It should be done already. For a country that claims leadership in technology, we sure don't lead. This reminds me of broadband speed in Korea and Japan compared to the US. It is a shame.




Economic Times
By teckytech9 on 2/6/2009 8:02:38 PM , Rating: 2
What is not known is the percentage of paying customers of Cable and Satellite services who have recently canceled their subscription due to hard economic times.

This would increase the demand for coupons as the majority of the canceled subscribers would not have anticipated acting sooner to get these coupons and now find themselves in this predicament.

I would be pressed to find these numbers being published by any Cable and Satellite companies too.




"Google fired a shot heard 'round the world, and now a second American company has answered the call to defend the rights of the Chinese people." -- Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.)
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