I am I, GoogQuixote, the lord of free wireless

Google has now launched a campaign called FreeTheAirwaves aimed at making the "white space" between auctioned channels unlicensed.

Man of La Mancha CD cover
Google is tilting at windmills again.

Having lost the auction for abandoned TV frequencies (while winning some "open access" rights), Google has now launched a campaign called FreeTheAirwaves aimed at making the "white space" between auctioned channels unlicensed.

Needless to say, broadcasters and auction winners are not amused. They are already expressing their opposition, and given the Bush Administration's past positions are very likely to win this round.

The question is whether those forces will remain dominant, given the realignment due to follow the November elections.

Both sides claimed victory in recent technical tests. Equipment makers said their systems worked. The licensees claimed interference. The FCC sided with the licensees.

Technically there is no reason why 21st century technology should not be able to avoid interference, especially if the power of unlicensed gear is limited.

The success of WiFi, and the lack of traffic in adjacent licensed spectrum, attests to this. If necessary unlicensed gear could turn itself off automatically in the presence of licensed signals.

But, as I have noted here many times, this is not about technology. It's about politics and power. It's about maintaining monopolies.

If more unlicensed spectrum is released, the value of licensed spectrum is reduced substantially, since carriers will no longer have a monopoly on nationwide networking.

This will reduce what they're able to charge, reducing their total revenue, and reducing the value of those spectrum licenses. The government, which made billions on those licenses, will have a problem.

The carriers will have a bigger problem. Stock analysts are already souring on them.  Their most valuable assets are their shared monopolies in wireless. Lose those monopolies and the whole house of cards can come crashing down.

Given all that, can consumers and businesses which would benefit from enhanced wireless traffic overcome the monopolists and their co-conspirators in government?

It won't be easy. Even with Microsoft acting as Sancho Panza Google may be tilting at windmills. Unless you believe otherwise and act on that belief.

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