Thursday, May 22, 2008

Larry Page talks about Google's vision of "wi-fi on steroids"

"Wi-fi on steriods." That's one of the many potential uses for the wireless spectrum that is now lying unused between TV channels, our co-founder Larry Page told the New America Foundation here in DC this morning.

But why does Google care about helping more people get access to the web, whether it's through enhanced wi-fi or other means? As Larry put it, Google's mission is to organize the world's information -- but if no one has access to the Internet, what good is that effort? That's one of the big reasons Google has become steadily more engaged in spectrum policy debates in Washington. Wading into that debate at his talk today, Larry said that:

  • The U.S. has slipped from third to sixteenth in broadband penetration rates, in part because the U.S. has not shown leadership in encouraging greater broadband access. Utilizing the unused TV "white spaces" for broadband access would be a tremendous opportunity to bring the Internet to more Americans -- including those in rural areas and first responders. Because of the much longer range of these spectrum signals, wireless broadband access utilizing the TV white spaces could be brought to more consumers using fewer base stations -- in effect, "wi-fi on steriods"

  • While wireless microphone users express concerns about the potential for these Internet devices to interfere with their signals, in fact wireless microphones have been using this spectrum for years without interference problems, so they serve as proof that it can be done safely. And while we believe that spectrum sensing technology can be proven to work, Larry noted that Google has also proposed an enhanced spectrum protection plan -- involving geolocation and beacon technology -- to guarantee that devices using this spectrum wouldn't interfere with current users.

  • The issue of device testing has been unfortunately politicized in Washington. Larry noted that the FCC process will guarantee that no device is sold to consumers until it can be certified not to interfere -- a point often lost in this debate. He said he is "100 percent confident" that the white spaces will be used for Internet access -- it's just a question of when. And when that happens, many different companies will likely invest millions of dollars to develop innovative devices that don't interfere. But the FCC allowing this innovation to happen is a necessary first step.

  • The way that spectrum has traditionally been allocated is inefficient, and causes a lot of valuable spectrum to go to waste. Larry proposed that spectrum could be auctioned off by the government on a real-time basis (similar to Google's ad auction), allowing devices and consumers to use spectrum as they need it. He also suggested that the U.S. government agencies that hold spectrum -- primarily the Department of Defense -- be allowed to have real-time auctions of their unused spectrum to other potential users, which would also additional government revenue.

What do you think of these ideas?

Here's video of Larry's talk with the New America Foundation's Michael Calabrese:


Mark M. said...

I want to see this happen. Please do it!

chris_deboever said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alex said...

I am not clear is white space internet access faster then Cable or a T1? What kind of wi-fi range are we talking about? How awsome will it be. This kind of stuff is not mentioned in articles and it should be, sell your self more. Washington is all about that, and as a DCite I can say that.

Jody said...

I am not clear is white space internet access faster then Cable or a T1?

You're only as fast as your slowest pipe.

Darkmonk said...

I cannot stress how much I feel that this would be the single largest step that the internet has ever taken, if it happens. I'd also like to ask the question why wireless TV is more important that wireless internet. And why can't we just convert the TV into a feed over the internet? Makes more sense to me!

Jason said...

Since you are only as fast as your slowest pipe, I think the question is what data transmission speeds could this frequency support?

I've heard that the 700Mhz spectrum has the potential to be pretty fast. These white spaces reside in the gaps between the licensed portions that Verizon and AT&T just paid mega-billions for, so clearly there are political ramifications. Brilliant policy moves on Google's part though, stirring the pot on that auction and then pushing forward with the White Spaces Coalition after!


OK Mr Page, try to hold a GOOGLE function and hold that radio microphone up to your mouth and see what comes out at the other end. Your plan to saturate all the available WHITESPACE will make it impossible to find clean channels to transmit on.
GOOD LUCK watching the GRAMMY's, the SUPERBOWL!! Don;t you get it?

cabe said...

The FCC has been charged with making sure there is order on the airwaves, and they are distributed fairly. It is my understanding that your device can achieve those same goals. The FCC has failed miserably in their quest to distribute the airwaves fairly, nearly all licenses are owned by 5 major corporations. With the internet and whitespace radio modems, we can share what is rightfully ours in an orderly way. I disagree with the idea of the government auctioning off the airwaves for internet. Why should they be able to sell our own airwaves back to us? I believe the right course of action is to pressure the FCC to explain how licensees receiving such special protection from radio interference can be legal under the 14th amendment's equal protection clause. I also thing we should pressure congress to abolish the FCC licensing scheme, and craft a standard which all broadcasters must follow including regulations on transmitter strength as a function of transmitters within contact range, a requirement that internet carriers using the public airwaves carry all data at the same price (network neutrality) and the protocol used must be switched packet, must not be proprietary, and must only send data when it is asked for (no more using up the airwaves on shows nobody is interested in.) This is my humble proposal.


Bill said...

I am very pleased to find reasonable comments here.

Cabe commented:
"The FCC has been charged with making sure there is order on the airwaves, and they are distributed fairly."

That's an important distinction that some folks seem to overlook.

Larry Page's post included the following:
"the FCC process will guarantee that no device is sold to consumers until it can be certified not to interfere"

That is, indeed, how it is supposed to work.

FCC Type Acceptance has been the rule for commercial broadcasters, two way radio, and most other users for a very long time.

For the record I was a broadcast engineer for over 20 years, and I am still an amateur radio operator. I'm also heavily involved in technical theatre on an amateur level.

I am opposed to the current battle over the white space... the whole thing has become a political football when what is really needed is balance and consensus.

I can't imagine that anyone would argue against "Wi-Fi" on steroids. Universal, ubiquitous access to the internet would be a huge boon for everyone.

By the same token, I can't imagine that any reasonable person would want to see an entire segment of spectrum users (ignoring for a moment the very real fact they many use it illegally - I'll get to that) booted out without time to find an alternative.

Live production, be it theatre, concerts, sporting events, or whatever, depends on the wireless technology they are using today.

It has been reported that anyone using a wireless microphone in the TV portion of the spectrum does so illegally. This is untrue.

First, anyone with a broadcast license can use that portion of the spectrum that is licensed to them, as long as they use equipment that meets certain specifications, or are willing to accept interference.

Second, there are already a number of exceptions. Recently I had to specify an assisted listening system for a theatre. We chose RF over Infra-Red because it is more reliable.

With all the current fuss I was concerned about future problems, but a little research pointed out that these transmitters are entirely legal, when used for their intended application.

It is true that the live production industry operated on a wink and a nudge for a very long time, and now they must pay the price. They need to develop and use wireless systems that are legal.

But they've been pushed into a bit of a nasty corner. The wireless manufacturers are almost certainly all working on their next generation of device, but until the white space issue is resolved they can't be certain what the requirements will be, so they can't really make a lot of noise about what it is they are developing.

They will be (or should be) subject to the same rigorous testing that the wireless networking devices are subject to.

All of us would like to see the soon-to-be vacated space used efficiently, and quickly. But there is such a thing as too quick.

We all need to take a step back and figure out a solution that allows "Wi-Fi on steroids" while at the same time preserving, and even improving the current applications.

I don't think that's too much to ask...

Author Smart said...

Hii Mr. Page

How are you doing??

I have certain critical issues related to adsense but no one is responding from GOOGLE office except when i send a mail reply comes from automatic server.

Please ask some responsible person to cooperate.

I am not publishing my page since past 1 month or so because of adsense issues.

Earlier Seeba responded but after taking my details where she gone in the googleplex?? Who knows?????

I was searching your email id but didn't get so i thought to put information through blog comment.




Joe said...

All mobile wireless broadband networks--that use unlicensed or licensed spectrum--require backhaul infrastructure. Without backhaul infrastructure, consumers fail to benefit from innovative new technologies like this worthy "wi-fi on steroids" project.
Consumer e911 calls, and first responder network communications, require interference free backhaul licensed on a point-to-point basis. A narrow percentage of the TV White space spectrum needs to get devoted to such licensing, in order to pursue this project's success, especially for rural areas. No other available spectrum bands possess the long-haul characteristics necessary for quality backhaul to reach 50, 60, 70 or more miles, and cost-effectively install the foundations in rural areas to "light and connect" these future mobile broadband networks.

ponyjoe said...

Some good comments but in all of this I have yet to hear the mechanics of how broadband is going to reach people in rural areas such as I am in. Seems like someone still has to put up a tower somewhere that would send and recieve signals from distant locations.Can anyone break this down for me. If this worked and signals could be sent and recieved over long distances why would this not put companies like Verizon out of business for mobile broadband. Curently I am recieving mobile internet at my house from a cell tower Five miles away and can only get a good signal with the use of an amplifier. If I could send and recieve over a long distance why would I stay with a cell company.

Kuld33p said...

So when can we see a consumer product on this technology ?

Art said...

It's on now.