05.03.08

Won’t somebody think of the professional athletes?

Posted in TV Bands, white space at 8:20 am by JamesNeel

In Reuters earlier this week, the NBA, NFL, MLB, and NHL collectively issued a statement as the Sports Technology Alliance in opposition to the use of the White Space (unoccupied TV bands), and particularly singled out Google’s plan.

We are deeply troubled by the very serious disruption and harm that portable device interference will cause to sport broadcast programming, whether prerecorded or live, and the conduct of the games themselves,” the Sports Technology Alliance, said in a filing with the Federal Communications Commission.

“We are deeply troubled by the very serious disruption and harm that portable device interference will cause to sport broadcast programming, whether prerecorded or live, and the conduct of the games themselves,” the Sports Technology Alliance, said in a filing with the Federal Communications Commission.”

Basically, they think that the wireless mics will be excessively interfered with. Google responded by basically calling the Sports Technology Alliance a bunch of Luddites (probably not too helpful).

“It’s really too bad that some people prefer the comfort of the past to the promise of the future, and defend the status quo instead of working to bring the Internet to more Americans.

“We enjoy the Super Bowl and NCAA tournament as much as the next sports fan, and wouldn’t support any plan that interferes with professional sports”

Similar thoughts have been expressed by hospitals, theaters, and churches (sorry, can’t find links for the last two). All of these make some use of the TV spectrum now (wireless mics for the latter two, medical telmetry in Channel 37 for the hospitals), and they don’t want their implicitly-government-provided ox gored.

My two cents. After having a little time to think it over, I think the Google plan (geolocation + database, + beacon for mics) can be improved to handle these complaints in three simple steps.

1) Extend the database to include churches, theaters, hospitals, and sporting venues. They don’t move, so this should be easy enough to add.

2) Add to the database location entries a field (or fields) to capture permissible transmit times. Most of the time an arena, theater or church are not in use, but when they are, it’s not typically something the venues want to keep secret.

3) The protected regions around these venues should be much smaller than for TV footprints.

With these in place, the white space device gets its location information (either directly or indirectly), the time of day (directly or indirectly), logs onto the net (again, either directly or indirectly) and finds out if it’s ok to transmit in its current location and for how long (alternately it can periodically poll the database to make certain it’s ok to transmit).

Hospitals, churches, arenas, and theaters while they’re in use (for hospitals, this means all the time). Further I see no reason why mics in those locations would need to add the special beacon, so all of these guys could continue using their equipment as before. Of course, it would be incumbent on the white space coalition to build / maintain a good working database, but that sounds like something Google would be good at. Plus it would give an excuse to create “Google church” (find out what’s going on at the churches in your neighborhood and when), “Google Theater”, “Google Sporting Events”, and the like.

As an added bonus, with all that venue information and the Google brand, Google could also start to sell event tickets online and break the TicketMaster monopoly.

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