Google Launches White Spaces Campaign

Stephen Yagielowicz
LOS ANGELES — New media and search giant Google has launched a campaign called "Free the Airwaves," which hopes to "bring wireless Internet to everyone, everywhere," by raising public awareness of "white spaces" — and influencing the FCC in its decisions on how best to handle this valuable national asset.

"Why free the airwaves?" the website at asks. "Remember that fuzzy static between channels on the old TVs? Today more than three-quarters of those radio airwaves, or 'white space' spectrum, are completely unused."

Google and others see this vast public resource being used to offer a revolution in wireless services, including universal wireless Internet, and hopes that its initiative will help influence the FCC, which will soon decide whether to open this unused spectrum for general usage.

"Your voice matters — a lot," the website encouraged users to become involved. "So if you agree that freeing the white spaces represents a vote for the future of the Internet, please sign our petition and help spread the word about this campaign."

As to what the issue is all about, the group offers that "Today, America is squandering one of its most valuable natural resources — the radio airwaves, or 'spectrum,' which surround us and help us to communicate with one another."

The wireless spectrum is not only used by TV and radio broadcasters, but cell phones, Wi-Fi hotspots, cordless telephones, baby monitors, garage door openers — and wireless microphone manufacturers who oppose the opening of their part of the spectrum.

"The U.S. government is in charge of dividing up this spectrum," the website proclaimed. "Unfortunately, over the years, we've ended up with a complicated, inefficient system for assigning it, and vast amounts of valuable spectrum simply go unused."

The group laments how Americans spend billions on cell phones and wireless services due to broken policies that stifle innovation.

"This static is actually empty airwaves," the group added. "And when TV stations cease analog transmission in February 2009, even more channels will be empty, leaving between 12 and 40 unused channels in each U.S. broadcast market. This unused spectrum could be used to bring fast wireless Internet service to more Americans, revolutionizing the way we think of broadband Internet access."

The adult entertainment industry can take a lesson from the Google initiative in trying to influence political outcomes on issues of interest to the company by reaching out directly to users that are both consumers — and voters.

As for the future of America's airwaves, "Simply put, the white spaces are the building blocks for Wi-Fi 2.0," the group concludes.