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Bill Gates Says White Space Is for Free Wi-Fi; Broadcasters Want License and Regulation

Illustration for article titled Bill Gates Says White Space Is for Free Wi-Fi; Broadcasters Want License and Regulation

Referring to Microsoft's desire to use soon-to-be-opened broadcasting bandwidth for low-powered unlicensed wireless devices, Bill Gates argued that it will make for improved Wi-Fi, a term he appears to be using as simply non-regulated, subscription-free wireless. He said:

"We're hopeful that that will be made available so that Wi-Fi can explode in terms of its usage, even out into some of these less dense areas where distance has been a big problem for Wi-Fi."


Bill's opponents see this not as an opportunity for more Wi-Fi but as a chance to widen costlier, regulated wireless subscription services.

Microsoft along with Google, Dell, HP, Intel and Philips, have been lobbying the FCC to permit white-space devices, which they have been continuously submitting for testing. Broadcasters and others fear static and other kinds of interference.


Dennis Wharton, a spokesman for the National Association of Broadcasters, argues for the regulated model:

"Broadband penetration could be drastically improved through a fixed, licensed service without interference to TV reception. Unfortunately, Microsoft continues to push for an unlicensed technology that simply does not work...TV viewers should not be inundated by the inevitable interference caused by such faulty devices."

Spoken, I must say, like someone who has no faith that these problems can be solved through technology.

Microsoft's chief research and strategy officer, Craig Mundie, addressed the situation in a more desperate tone:

White space activity today is sort of our last hope to get some good spectrum.

You hear that, Obi Kevin-Martin-obi? [Reuters]


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Gin and Panic

What I see is a consortium trying to gain access to nearly the same area of the spectrum that others are currently bidding $billions for.