Read Between the Spectrums – Will White Spaces Shed Light on Broadband Innovation?

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Do you feel bad for your Internet Service Provider (ISP)? No? You mean you don’t like paying exorbitant monthly fees and bloated service charges?

Not even with Comcast being reprimanded for bandwidth throttling? Or an upcoming legislative year with net neutrality back on the table?

Or more recently, the FCC approval to use unused broadband spectrums known as “white spaces”?

With the government’s approval to use white spaces, ISP tycoons such as AT&T and Comcast may have to start getting creative to keep turning that huge profit.

Serving as a buffer between broadcast channels to help limit and prevent signal interference, white spaces are able to travel faster, farther and travel better through walls. Owing to the need of less wireless transmitters and the power of the signals, these white spaces would be more cost efficient than current WiFi signals, only much stronger and much cheaper.

Opponents of the issue argue that using these spectrums would cause interference with wireless signals such as TV channels and devices like microphones used by entertainers, preachers and sports arenas. The most famous being Dolly Parton who wrote a letter to FCC commissioners urging them to consider the dire consequences of this ruling.

But if you’re not inclined to sign up to the Chicken Little camp, and would like a more astute and realistic assessment of the situation, advocates of the issue include Google co-founder Larry Page, Microsoft’s chief research and strategy officer Craig Mundie and even the scion of all things technology, Bill Gates.

These guys might have a little clearer understanding as to the implications and applications of white spaces than Dolly Parton.

And just what are the implications and applications for those in the search and digital marketing industries?

For one, rural areas with previously limited or no Internet resources will gain access to not just fast and powerful web usage, but much cheaper access than that provided by the big ISPs.

Also, as Larry Page stated, providing Internet access that works virtually everywhere would translate into more searches on Google, not to mention MSN and Yahoo!, as these previously untapped markets begin to explore the web, and 20 to 30 percent increase in advertising revenue.

The most immediate impact would be for mobile devices such as smart phones and laptops, which are becoming mainstream in terms of Internet and search usage. Having a clearer and much faster path for users to find information via their mobile device is another avenue for advertisers to put clients, products and services in front of larger audiences.

This could also mean increased PPC budgets for targeting these untapped areas of commerce. It could mean small businesses in these areas building web pages and hiring SEO firms to increase presence and traffic around local search avenues.

It could also allow the United States to shake the stigma of being a middle-of-the-pack competitor in terms of its global position in broadband penetration and innovation.

Best case scenario: White space usage forces ISPs into rethinking their business model. Worst case scenario: ISPs find yet another way to exploit this broadband innovation.

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