Government // Mobile & Wireless
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11/6/2008
05:16 PM
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Google Co-Founder Larry Page Giddy For White Spaces

The technical executive of the search engine said utilizing white spaces is good for the country, and it could increase the company's revenue by as much as 30%.

Page sees various business models and opportunities for companies of all sizes, and he points to the success of Linksys and Netgear with unlicensed Wi-Fi. Martin said the FCC didn't make the decision so Google could make more money, but he did say the search giant was "crucial" in highlighting the consumer benefits as well as the potential technical issues.

Both Martin and Page said the public and companies will be best served by using previous technical knowledge for handling new white-spaces devices. For example, the FCC said white-spaces devices will have to use geolocation technology, which Martin said could be easily taken from similar technology in modern phones.

Page said he is hopeful that a lot of lessons learned from Wi-Fi --especially the need for an interoperability standard -- can be integrated into white-spaces devices. Both said they could envision devices on the market as soon as 18 months, but it will undoubtedly take longer for a wider rollout, as well as economies of scale.

Google is also an investor in the Sprint-backed Clearwire, which is in the process of rolling out a nationwide WiMax network. Page said radios are on the same technological trajectory as computers and will soon be able to utilize different spectrums and bands easily. It's up to the various network providers to work out an easy way to share connectivity, he said.

Tuesday's decision will not be the last time the FCC handles white spaces, Martin said. White-spaces devices initially will have power and spectrum sensing limitations, but that could change with better technology and more white spaces experience.

"It was an important and aggressive first step, but we are putting in place a way to try and do more," Martin said.

Martin will most likely be replaced by a new Barack Obama administration, so he was quite candid in saying the government could and should move toward providing widespread connectivity to help bridge the so-called "digital divide." Martin has been a backer of auctioning off the Advanced Wireless Services-3 spectrum with the condition that the winner has to provide free wireless broadband to 95% of the population within 10 years.

Martin also said the government should reform its $8 billion Lifeline and Link-up services, which provide subsidies to low-income households for voice connectivity.

"It doesn't make sense because we can just focus on connecting people to broadband, while keeping voice connectivity over VoIP," Martin said.

The FCC chairman is also encouraged by the openness that he's seeing in the wireless industry. He pointed to Sprint's embedded-chip WiMax model, Verizon's open network pledge, and T-Mobile's use of the open Android platform as encouraging signs.

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