Google (NSDQ: GOOG) continues to push for more wireless broadband options in the U.S., and today took another step forward by launching “Free The Airwaves,” a Web site advocating for the unused space between TV stations to be used for Internet connectivity. The launch corresponds with the FCC’s conclusion of its field tests to see if using the space would create interference issues for broadcasters. Separately, the WSJ reported today that the FCC is expected to report its findings on the trials in September and then vote on whether the airwaves should be shared. By year-end, the FCC would issue rules for using the spectrum.
So far, the FCC sounds like it is amendable to the idea. The WSJ reported that Chairman Kevin Martin said: “The idea of trying to utilize the ‘white spaces’ from a consumer perspective would be a good win for everyone.” However, tests have been inconclusive with both broadcasters and wireless microphone companies worried that if the space between the channels is used, TV stations will not come in as clearly and microphone usage would be impaired.
Of course, this is not Google’s only wireless broadband endeavor. It also invested in the new Clearwire (NSDQ: CLWR), which will be a WiMax joint venture between Clearwire and Sprint (NYSE: S) if approved by the FCC. Google wrote on its blog today that the “Free The Airwaves” site “is a call to action for everyday users. You don’t need to be a telecommunications expert to understand that freeing the “white spaces” has the potential to transform wireless Internet as we know it.” Visitors are urged to upload a video explaining what more Internet access would mean to them. They are also asked to sign a petition to the FCC and to contact your elected officials. Google explains that it has its own business interests in mind: “Google has a clear business interest in expanding access to the web. There’s no doubt that if these airwaves are opened up to unlicensed use, more people will be using the Internet. That’s certainly good for Google (not to mention many of our industry peers) but we also think that it’s good for consumers.”