Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Beautiful White Space

This article in the Economist begins so tantalizingly:
HOW much would you pay for unlimited access to WiFi hotspots that stretched for miles instead of a few hundred feet, provided unbroken connections even deep inside buildings, and offered broadband speeds ten times faster than today’s wimpy connections found in coffee shops, hotel lobbies, airport lounges and homes?
How about nothing, or next to nothing? That could be on the cards within a couple of years, thanks to a decision taken this past week by America's Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

They're referring to the unused part of the broadcast spectrum known as "white spaces". To dream of such a dream. Can you imagine the possibilities of smartphones using a cheap, widely available network for data. Then you can probably imagine those same devices using the same network for VoIP as well. One also wonders if such a network would be easier to create thus knocking a hole in Canadian providers arguments of difficult high-cost cell networks and the resulting poor service and high prices.

He didn't see it coming, how could we?

Tonight, TVO is playing Soylent Green where in an imagined future a murder mystery plays out against a backdrop of an energy crisis, a population explosion, a seeming economic depression and widespread water and food shortages. Like Blade Runner or Children of Men, our cinematic visions of the future often turn out to be neither as shining nor as bleak as we envision so perhaps we should reserve judgement on "white-space" transmissions as well.



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