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Microsoft to send high-speed net traffic over whitespace
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Tue Jun 17, 2008 5:12 am Reply and quote this post
Microsoft has a plan for sending high-speed net traffic over America's television whitespaces. And it's sure the country will eat some serious foreign dust ifthis plan gets snuffed.

"Across the nation, there are vast swathes of unoccupied TVspectrum, and we - along with other tech companies - are asking thatthis spectrum be used for a what is essentially WiFi on steroids,"Microsoft senior director of public policy Marc Berejka said yesterdayduring a panel discussion at Santa Clara University.
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"If we fail on white spaces, what does that mean for the country'sreputation in the world as innovators? We have the potential to beleaders on spectrum policy, but if we don't push white spaces through,it will happen somewhere else. Some country will take the lead, andentrepreneurs will innovate over there."

But as Berejka admits, not everyone agrees with him. This whitespace idea is opposed by the nation's TV broadcasters, the wirelessmicrophone industry, and hospitals who like to monitor people walking through their hallways. Not to mention the other panelists at yesterday's Media Access Project Innovation 08 gathering.

Analyst Coleman Bazelon, economist Gregory Rose,
Media Access Project's Harold Feld, CTIA's Carolyn Brandon,
Columbia Telecommunications' Joanne Hovis, Microsoft's Marc Berejka
Microsoft wants to turn America's white spaces - portions of the TV band that aren'tused for broadcasting - into unlicensed spectrum. That means anyonecould buy devices off-the-shelf and grab some wireless bandwidth - aswe now do with WiFi. The difference is that this spectrum offers muchbetter propagation properties. Those net-centric wireless signals couldtravel over much longer distances - and at higher speeds.

One of Berejka's fellow panelists, industry analyst Coleman Bazelon,isn't opposed to using the white spaces for net access. But he doesn'tlike the unlicensed idea. "I agree that [the white space spectrum] is avaluable resource that's up for grabs," said Bazelon, a principal withthe Battle Group. "But if we don't license it and put it into the handsof companies that will invest in infrastructure to develop, it's goingto be wasted."

Of course, if it is licensed and auctioned off to the highestbidder, it will likely fall into the hands of the wireless old guard.Think AT&T and Verizon. After all, that was the inevitable resultof the epic 700-MHz auction. Officially, Microsoft has nothing but good thingsto say about the old guard, but in this case, it wants truly openairwaves. Redmond has even gone so far as to partner with Google on itswhite spaces project. Yes, Google.

At yesterday's panel, the old guard was represented by the CTIAwireless association. And naturally, the association said it wouldprefer that the white spaces be auctioned off to the highest bidder.

"We don't think white spaces should be given away for free," saidCarolyn Brandon, the CTIA's vice president of policy. "Some of ourmembers have suggested that the white spaces be auctioned off forbackhaul. Some have suggested that's not an important enough use, butwe say 'Let the market decide what the best use is.'"
So Microsoft tells the truth. If its white space plan bites thedust, so does at least a certain amount of American innovation. That'sright: We're siding with Redmond on this one.

Contributed by Editorial Team, Executive Management Team
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