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White Space Broadband Dodges a Bullet
Compromise Language Keeps FCC Authority Intact
by Karl Bode 06:31PM Thursday Feb 16 2012
"White space" broadband, a technology that rides on the unlicensed spectrum freed by the migration to digital television, only recently got off the ground and has great promise as a new, long range niche wireless alternative. Still, the technology faced being killed by regulation this week after AT&T tried to sneak language into the payroll tax extension bill that would have not only crippled the FCC's ability to place competitive rules on spectrum auction, but it would have also prevented them from allocating unlisenced spectrum in the TV white spaces.

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According to consumer advocacy group Free Press, politicians reached a "compromise" this week ahead of the full vote. The FCC won't be restricted in their ability to manage white space broadband, and can continue to impose auction rules aimed at helping smaller competitors enter the market, but they won't be able to restrict larger companies from participating based on market dominance and spectrum holdings.

"We are glad that the agreement would preserve at least some of the tools the FCC needs to assign licenses in the public interest and prevent further erosion of competition among wireless providers," said the group. "Parts of the bill the House passed in December would all but ensure that AT&T and Verizon lock up all the most valuable spectrum in any future auction, further tightening the effective duopoly these companies already hold."

We've got a copy (pdf) of the full discussion draft, and pages 81-85 specifically cover the FCC's spectrum auction authority.

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bcltoys

join:2008-07-21
Lost today

Normal people?

Will white space ever help us people that have no choice other then 3g/dial-up/sat.Will I be able to buy a white space usb device a plug it into my computer or will big company's gobble it all up then resell.
Sammer

join:2005-12-22
Canonsburg, PA

Re: Normal people?

Not if AT&T has its greedy way.
jcremin

join:2009-12-22
Siren, WI
kudos:2
said by bcltoys:

Will white space ever help us people that have no choice other then 3g/dial-up/sat.Will I be able to buy a white space usb device a plug it into my computer or will big company's gobble it all up then resell.

It will..... some day..... hopefully....

IF, I repeat IF, the white space spectrum remains in-tact, and if the hardware vendors are able to do some mass production and drive the price down. The first generation devices were only able to do about 3 megs, but the upcoming second generation devices look like they will be able to do up to 12 to 16 megs of TCP throughput. Once channel bonding is up and running, the throughput could go up drastically from there.

But again, we're still waiting on approved and affordable devices. You'll also need a provider to offer it in your area.
Expand your moderator at work

treichhart

join:2006-12-12

No it will not

No whitespace will not help you out with any major bandwidth options like satellite and mobile aka 3g/4g. Because currently whitespace hardware only limits you to 3meg and it might take couple years to get over 3meg hardware. So only best option you have is wait intill fixed wireless service provider can get to you aka WISP.

Plus it cost alot of money like wisp to deploy. The hardware for whitespace right now around $900 to 2k.

Carlson

@sbcglobal.net

Re: No it will not

Actually we're getting throughputs of up to 12 mbps, which is more than adequate for broadband use.

You're right that the most affordable way to deploy this technology is through a WISP, so that one access point can serve numerous clients at an affordable price.

Visit our website for more information if you're interested www.carlsonwireless.com

fifty nine

join:2002-09-25
Sussex, NJ
kudos:2

White space is dead on arrival

The spectrum will all be auctioned off and when that happens your white space device will be nothing other than an expensive paperweight.

RARPSL

join:1999-12-08
Suffern, NY

Use It or Lose It

Does the bill ban "Anti Warehousing" AKA "Use It or Lose It" caveats on the bidders or is it silent on this? IMO, there should be usage requirements to prevent deep pocket companies from buying the licenses with the intent of never using the frequencies (but only to prevent others from getting them and thus be able to compete). The usage terms should set a mile stone usage calendar failure to met will void the license for the unused frequencies with no refund of the fees (you keep what you DO have in use). The timeframes should be short but reasonable. ie: No years long first use periods and a full use requirement in the 2 - 3 year time span.

jmoore

@suddenlink.net

not enough?

For what it is White Space will be a god send to rural broadband where the only choice is dial up at 56K if that is even available. Some of the most attractive places to live and some of the worst will have a leg up getting decent (okay, not city speed) broadband over white space. Do not discount the reliability and propogation of white space frequencies.