There are not many technical
realms where Google engineers have not either entered or created. Wireless connectivity
is key to their continued dominance in the information domain, so they understandably
have a vested interest in the "white space" spectrum debate. White space comprises portions of
the electromagnetic spectrum where bands are either unlicensed or where licensed
bands are or will be up for grabs. An example of the former is the 2.4 GHz
Wi-Fi band, and an example of the latter is some parts of the broadcast television
band that is being vacated in areas.
Although this information is a few years old, it shows how Google was working
early−on with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to build a real-time database of what they term "dynamic
spectrum" in order to provide useful information about available
white space (now directs
here) to both users and
providers. A separate database is available for fixed and mobile spectrum. Enter
your location of interest and the map zooms into that region. For instance, in my
town (at the time) of Erie, Pennsylvania (see marker on map below), as of January
2013 when this was first posted there were 21 channels available (the database was
temporarily locked for new entries), including three used for radio astronomy.
Interpreting the map is sort of opposite of what you would expect. A more appropriate
title would be "map of unavailable white spaces," since the more concentrated the
color coded areas are, the less chance any spectrum is available. Not surprisingly,
regions in and around large cities have the least amount of white space for use.
There is a big push by smart phone manufacturers to enable users to access copious
amount of data and at blazing download speeds at reduced or no cost, so a major
build-out of wireless hotspots is being undertaken. I posted a headline story that
addresses the effort: "Smartphone Party Ending for Wireless Carriers," and "Small Cells with Wi-Fi Set to Reshape Wireless Communications Market."
Per their website: "Google is working to enable dynamic spectrum sharing while
protecting licensed bands. Our database is designed to allow the same spectrum to
be shared, without interference, between multiple users, such as government agencies,
licensed commercial users and individuals. This means that if part of the spectrum
is being used in California, but available in Louisiana, those users will know.
Hat tip to Bob Davis for letting me know about it.
Google Spectrum Map
Google Spectrum Table
Posted January 23, 2022
(updated from original post on 5/17/2013)