March 25 2008 / by Marisa Vitols / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Government Year: 2009 Rating: 12
Wouldn’t it be nice to have cheap, high-speed wifi blanketing the entire United States? You’d be able to access the internet from anywhere, which would allow you to stream entertainment during long road trips, keep up-to-date on mass transit arrivals and departures, fall back on google maps when you become lost, or just not be tethered to an ethernet cord when you really just want to watch your kids play in the backyard while doing a bit of home-work.
Sound appealing? Google thinks so too. And they’ve proposed yet another solution to make this high-speed internet dream a reality.
Here’s the plan: The February 2009 conversion of all U.S. televisions from analog to digital will free-up an extraordinary amount of white space (basically, gaps of bandwidth in the previously saturated television spectrum), that could be used to project wireless internet signals throughout every home in America relatively risk-free.
Google’s ex parte filing with the FCC states that “[t]he unique qualities of the TV white space – unused spectrum, large amounts of bandwidth, and excellent propagation characteristics – offer a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to provide ubiquitous wireless broadband access to all Americans. In particular, this spectrum can provide robust infrastructure to serve the needs of underdeployed rural areas, as well as first responders and others in the public safety community. Moreover, use of this spectrum will enable much-needed competition to the incumbent broadband service providers.”
Sound like a win-win for everyone. So what’s the problem? TV broadcasters, wireless phone manufacturers, and even the NFL are worried that utilizing this white space will interfere with their programming, service or wireless devices. Google argues that this would not be a problem due to low-cost “spectrum sensing” which would prevent signals from being crossed.
Of course, the biggest obstacle remains the telecom industry, composed of heavy-weights like Verizon, who are naturally battling to maintain lucrative internet and broadband market-share: their new life-blood. They will do what it takes to slow down the spread of web access.
After repeatedly being beaten-down by Verizon while trying to establish nation-wide and municipal wi-max, you’d think Google would throw in the towel. But instead, they’re upping the ante, offering to contribute significant resources, including the free technical support necessary for these plans to come to fruition.
Of course, Google is not doing this solely out of the kindness in their corporate heart. The more people online, the more new gmail accounts, google ad clicks, google searches performed, etc. But at least their goal is more honorable than that of Verizon, a company that evidently cares more about keeping up its annual income than allowing technological and the resulting social progress.
Affordable or free national wifi would not only be a nice convenience to the consumer, imagine the difference it would make in the lives of underpriveleged families who can barely afford basic dial-up? Imagine the resources those children are missing out on – resources that range from research and learning tools to scholarship and college applications. The benefits are truly endless.
I find it reprehensible and mind-numbing that our nation continues to resist widespread connectivity. Let’s hope that this initiative or some other comprehensive national solution can accomplish this in the near future, so that we don’t get caught standing still as the progressive countries in the world go zipping on by.