Will Google And Gang Deliver On The Super Wi-Fi Dream?

by Gaurav Kheterpal on January 31, 2011

The Federal Communications Commission last week blessed a group of tech companies – led by Google – to act as administrators for the “white spaces” databases that will house information about the underutilized frequencies of the broadcast spectrum aka “super Wi-Fi”.

The FCC decision is a great moral boost for the online search giant as it inches “one step closer to Super Wi-Fi” dream. Moreover, it’s a significant step forward to resolve the impending spectrum crisis and pacify wireless operators who’ve been pushing for more spectrum to be made available.

While the FCC maintains that having multiple entities handling these databases is “in the public interest”, eyebrows are being raised over Google’s administrative privileges as its a prospective manufacturer of TV band devices and it could potentially overshadow the other small players in the mix.

Can Google and gang deliver on the Super Wi-Fi dream? Or would it go down as yet another catastrophic tech failure of modern times? Only time will tell.

So, what is Super Wi-Fi and what’s so special about it? Simply put, “white space” refers to unused spectrum that sits between TV channels. It’s dubbed as “Super Wi-Fi” because its wavelengths support a higher penetration, much better than regular Wi-Fi. The idea is to utilize this unused spectrum to provide broadband data for free or at a very low cost, a win-win proposition for both wireless operators (more spectrum) as well as customers (low-cost internet). Of course, it means that special devices must be developed to run on white space spectrum but that can wait till the “white space” have been identified and all legal hurdles have been cleared.

Apart from Google, the Super Wi-Fi gang includes lesser-known names such as Comsearch, Frequency Finder, KB Enterprises LLC and LS Telcom, Key Bridge Global LLC, Neustar, Spectrum Bridge, Telcordia Technologies, and WSdb LLC. Key Bridge, in particular, has been quiet vocal about its reservations on Google’s presence amongst the database administrators. It alleges that as a database administrator, Google would be able to collect sensitive information such as the make, model, serial number, location and ownership of competitors’ equipment, which would help the company produce white space hardware itself.

While it’s hard to deny those concerns, one must respect the fact that Google has been working on Super Wi-Fi for years. The company ran a “Free The Airwaves” campaign in 2008 encouraging .people to support so-called unlicensed use of white spaces. Last year, Google collaborated with a lesser-known Florida-based Spectrum Bridge to launch an experimental white space network in northern California. It has been lobbying hard with the FCC to implement a mechanism which would prevent interference from a new generation of wireless devices that will use airwaves once reserved for television.

The white space databases won’t be active for several weeks. And with the gang members openly questioning their leader’s credentials, it would be interesting to see if Google can deliver on its promise of the Super Wi-Fi dream. I’m skeptical yet hopeful.

What are your thoughts on Super Wi-Fi? Is the only solution to the ongoing spectrum crisis? Despite its vested business interests, should Google be a part of white space admins? Please share your opinion by leaving a comment below this post.

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Written by: Gaurav Kheterpal. www.digitcom.ca >. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com > by: RSS>, Twitter >, Identi.ca >, or Friendfeed >

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Will Google And Gang Deliver On The Super Wi-Fi Dream … | Wireless Fans
January 31, 2011 at 9:43 am

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