Feature Article

September 29, 2010

W H I T E S P AC E: So What? So When?

Last week, I vented on the FCC lumping VoIP into the concepts of e911. I will address this problem at another time, but clearly the FCC keeps focusing on VoIP as a replacement to POTS as opposed to an enabler for services beyond telecommunications.

But let’s leave the dead to bury the dead and talk about the positive prospects for TV White Space.

Oh wait, we have a similar problem here. Spectrum is considered a scarcity, and once again the FCC is under pressure to apply the old rules. To their credit the FCC opened up the market for something other than a carrier to use the spectrum.

The FCC has expanded the unlicensed spectrum with White Space.

Why is that significant? Let’s do some analysis.

Before WiFi existed the experience of Wireless Data services were pretty dreadful. WAP and other gateway strategies could make dial up look like DSL in comparison.

However, WiFi managed to eke out a wireless Ethernet experience that gave us mass quantities of a products that could be deployed by anyone.

If we did not have WiFi would our smartphones might have been permanently tethered. It’s WiFi that has changed the game. Now the question is will White Space be the new WiFi and advance the market further?

Brough Turner has pointed out that with today’s computing power the old rules of looking at spectrum from an analog world are antiquated. Brough argues that WiFi is still the most likely place for innovation to occur. However, he goes on to say that, “The FCC's TV white spaces order is a major step is getting access to this wasted national resource!  Yes, there are decades of work ahead, but the white spaces order gives us a viable political approach to breaking open other bands. Looking back 20 or 30 years from now, we'll remember the TV white spaces order as the first step in remaking our national spectrum policy.”

In other words the White Space decision is the CarterPhone decision of our time.

The old rules are being honored with the spectrum mapping required, but at least they did not force White Space to adopt costly spectrum monitoring technigues.

Ideally it would be nice to see Mary and Tom Evslin lead a charge of enhanced service enablers in a regulatory free zone.

We are going to have a White Space Birds of a Feather session at 4GWE that will be available via conference call if you are remote. We will try to figure out how quickly TV White Space will be used in the market. 

If you want to participate please send me an email, carl@crossfiremedia.com.

Carl Ford is a partner at Crossfire Media.

Edited by Patrick Barnard

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