The promise of everywhere WiFi access by leveraging the open spectrum that once was home to non cable TV before it went digital just got turned on for the public. The place, New Hanover County, North Carolina.
With a population of just over 192,000 people, what earned this county the right to turn the lights on for what has been billed by some as the future of Broadband Delivery? Well in a press release yesterday it looks like it was all about becoming the first and in partnership with Spectrum Bridge, the county became the first “Smart County” in the US.
So what is Super WiFi?
Well this is a proposed service that would enable broadband connectivity to close to 98% of US Residents by leveraging the recently available analog spectrum that opened with the transition to Digital Broadcasts of Television Signals. The towers are already in place and the spectrum is able to go through walls and work in basements (I remember all to well using Rabbit Ears or the Powered Antenna at the cottage). With a range of nearly 100 miles this could be a god send for under serviced areas that are fighting for better connections and the opportunity to have any kind of broadband!
But according to the good people over at GigaOM this might be the First, the Last and the Only instance of Super WiFi as US Congress now has a new Spectrum Bill that passed through the House last month will kill the opportunity that this technology could bring to under serviced areas.
The spectrum bill that passed the House last night will make any technologist weep. I know the tech community is upset over the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), but this bill represents a somewhat geekier threat–killing more unlicensed spectrum. So Silicon Valley may want to get active over this one too. The House version of the bill will ensure that none of the airwaves auctioned off from the digital TV band will be used for unlicensed wireless, where services such as Wi-Fi or white spaces broadband exist.
It sickens me to think that not only did the original plan make it through and companies around the US paid good money to the FCC to be able to use this “white space” that while it is a commercial endeavor it really does improve the quality of life for so many and would propel the US up the global broadband ranks very quickly…it may all be for nothing.
In a country that is experiencing run away debt…why would you not want to take advantage of the potential for “the auctions will generate a surplus of $10 billion, which will be used for deficit reduction by the U.S. Treasury” according to Senator John Rockefeller Chairman of the Commerce Committee.
I hope that Canada does not follow the give / take policies of our neighbors to the South and we really jump on board with the opportunity to support and even Nationalize Broadband Delivery…the CBC pioneered the concept of TV Broadcasts and there really is not a single Canadian who has not had the option to watch Hockey Night in Canada (as long as they have electricity and a TV).
Well, I will be wrapping up my week and with just a few days left in the Ultimate Blog Challenge I look forward to a day off next Wednesday…ah who am I kidding…Post a Day baby!
Chris J Powell