Google wants ubiquitous internet out of unused airwaves

19 Aug 2008

The ‘white spaces’ between unused broadcast airwaves could be valuable in providing affordable, high-speed wireless internet connectivity, Google has suggested.

Google said it is anticipating the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will make a ruling in the coming months about using these white spaces after conducting a number of field tests.

“If you care about the future of the internet, now is the time to take action,” warned Minnie Ingersoll of Google’s alternative access team on the official Google blog yesterday.

Google has launched a new Free the Airwaves campaign to drive home this message in a move that could see cheaper bandwidth made available in the US, but which could also have implications for countries around the world with an abundance of unused broadcast spectrum.

In particular, Google believes using this kind of spectrum will have an important impact in rural communities not served with the latest broadband or telecoms services.

Describing the effort as a “call to action for everyday users”, Google is calling on users to sign a petition to the FCC and, if they want, film a video response explaining what increased internet access could mean to them.

“When it comes to opening these airwaves, we believe the public interest is clear,” Ingersoll said. “But we also want to be transparent about our involvement: Google has a clear business interest in expanding access to the web.

“There’s no doubt that if these airwaves are opened up to unlicensed use, more people will be using the internet. That’s certainly good for Google (not to mention many of our industry peers) but we also think that it’s good for consumers,” Ingersoll said.

By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years