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Ten Telecom Tsunamis

The telecom industry five years from now will be unrecognizable. The creative destruction of the Internet broadly writ will be even greater than it has been in the last decade. The major telcos, the major television networks, and the major cablecos -- if they still exist at all -- will have very different revenue models than they have today. That's the good scenario... more

More on 700 MHz Block C Hits Reserve Price

This is big... For the upper band C Block, the FCC mandated that any winning licensee have in place "no locking" and "no blocking" provisions conditioning its use of this spectrum: "Licensees offering service on spectrum subject to this section shall not deny, limit, or restrict the ability of their customers to use the devices and applications of their choice on the licensee..." The no-locking, no-blocking requirements were hedged in by substantial limitations... But it's still important... Particularly if Google is the winning bidder, something we may not know for a month or so. more

Spectrum Hot Real Estate

The fact that businesses around the world are knocking on the doors of their governments asking for spectrum is a clear indication that this telco real estate market is hotting up. The reason for this is not too hard to guess -- the enormous growth in the demand for mobile broadband. There is a large amount of pent-up demand as the mobile operators didn't want to open up this market while they were in the middle of adding new customers to their mobile voice services. more

Microsoft’s New Study Reports Over 162 Million in US Lack Broadband, FCC Says Only 24.7 Million

A new study by Microsoft researchers suggests the actual use of high-speed internet across the US is quite different than those of from the FCC. more

TV White Spaces Just the Beginning: Secondary Use of the Spectrum

Yesterday, the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to allow qualified devices to operate on a license-exempt basis in unused portions of TV channels 2-51, spectrum commonly referred to as "TV white spaces." A lot has already been written about this move... But what is missing in these discussions is the bigger picture. more

Google's Good Bandwidth Gambit

Google Chairman Eric Schmidt has made the FCC an offer it shouldn't refuse. At this point it's unlikely that the FCC will accept but it would be good for the United States if it did -- and good for Google, of course. Two problems with the Google offer: at&t and Verizon hate it and it probably would result in the 700MHz auction bringing in somewhat less money (immediately) for the treasury than an alternative which would encourage the telcos to bid. more

Google's Gigabit Gambit

Want a gig (1000 megabits per second) of Internet access bandwidth? Google says you could have it by the end of next year "from Manhattan to rural North Dakota (sic, I think they meant Vermont)" if their proposal to the FCC is accepted forthwith according to CNET's newsblog. Not only a gig but a mobile gig, accessible by cellphone or roaming computer -- no fiber required. Sound too good to be true? -- it isn't, IMHO! Engineering is not the problem... more

Mobile Trumps Fixed Broadband

"80% of Web users will choose mobile broadband over fixed by 2013" is the headline of a Total Telecom interview with John Cunliffe of Ericsson. I agree with the conclusion although I think Ericsson will be unpleasantly surprised to find that LTE is NOT the technology which leads to this revolution. Mobile access at speeds at least equal to what cable offers and at a price lower than today's cable broadband will be available both in the home and on the road within a year or two at the most. more

Prediction: Google WILL Bid for 700MHz Spectrum and WILL Win

There is an excellent business case for Google bidding megabucks in the upcoming 700MHz auction and investing even more to get a network up and running. I think Google is well aware of the value to them if they win and the harm they'd suffer if the duopoly wins instead. Google can make big bucks with a nationwide third network AND make things better for all Internet users AND improve the United States' pathetic competitive position in the contest for broadband access. Hope this post doesn't end up post-tagged "wishful thinking"... more

First Impression: FCC Rules for the 700MHz Auction

The FCC has issued rules which will govern the auction of valuable radio spectrum which could make a huge difference in the price and quality of communications in America. The glass is definitely half something: I'd say closer to empty than full but there are some things to like and some hope for competition. The decision is a compromise. Republican Chairman Martin was joined by Democrat Commissioners Adelstein and Copps in setting some open access conditions for 22MHz out of the 62MHz which will be auctioned. Republican Commissioner Tate reluctantly went along with these conditions and Republican McDowell voted against them. more

Two Things Happened at the FCC Today

Paul Kaputska has the best wrap-up of the 700 MHz press releases and statements online, with comments from major players. Rick Whitt is polite and welcoming, noting the progress that's been made (who would have thought any move towards unlocking devices from networks was possible?) while saying it would have been better to have included wholesale requirements. But while even mainstream media was (finally) focusing on the moderate, incremental, and possibly hopelessly unenforceable (and ultimately meaningless) steps taken by the FCC today in announcing its auction rules, something else happened. more

Wireless Innovations for a Networked Society

Last week, I had the honor of moderating an engaging panel discussion at Mozilla on the need for community networks and the important role they can play in bridging the digital divide. The panel highlighted the success stories of some of the existing California-based initiatives that are actively working toward building solutions to get under-served communities online. more

WSJ on Wireless Network Neutrality

Today's Wall Street Journal had an interesting article (subscription required) on the current state of the wireless walled garden. It cites several recent clashes between handset vendors and cellcos over the extent to which consumers can use their phones to access non cellco content. From the article: "At stake for consumers are what services will be available on their mobile phones and whether they're free or cost a monthly fee. The wireless Web is taking off more slowly in America than overseas, and one reason is that U.S. carriers tightly control what applications are available on mobile devices..." more

White Spaces News… Interesting First Step

When the U.S. Digital Television Transition (DTV) transition happens in Feb. 2009, channels 2 through 51 will remain allocated for television transmission. Few of the nation's television markets actually use 49 channels. Indeed, most use less than half of that number... Today, with Congress in recess, leaving less room for last-minute-Lucy-with-the-football lobbying gambits, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) appears to be poised to release a report saying the white spaces can be used without necessarily causing interference to existing broadcasts. There are still many questions to be answered... more

White Spaces Could Be the Broadcasters Best Hope

For years, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) fought the White Spaces Coalition and others interested in making US "TV white spaces" available for broadband, Wi-Fi or indeed, any new purpose. When the FCC voted 5-0 to permit license exempt use of TV White Spaces, the industry brought suit in Federal court. And they did this, despite rules in the FCC's decision that are so restrictive that, for now, white spaces devices are doomed to commercial failure. more