Digital TV may bring 'Wi-Fi on steroids' to Canada

Greetings!  I’m Mark Micheau, manager of research services at

One of the favorite buzz terms these days is digital TV.  It seems as if everyone is being told that digital TV is here to stay and that if they do not get it then they will be shut out of the TV highway.  Truth or myth?  Probably truth but I’ll let you be the judge for yourself.  I am going to present you with an article to help you make up your mind and this article pertains to Canada.
Have a great day.
I’m Mark Micheau your research services manager.
Digital TV may bring ‘Wi-Fi on steroids’ to Canada; Broadband connections to
use leftover ‘white spaces’ from unneeded channels
Vito Pilieci
Ottawa Citizen , Feb. 5, 2009
An international initiative spearheaded by the Federal Communications
Commission in the U.S. could soon see this country blanketed by cheap,
high-speed Internet with the potential to change the way Canadians share
information, make cellphone calls and watch TV. 
Earlier this month, the FCC launched the “International TV White Spaces
Fellowship and Training Initiative,” which aims to educate foreign
regulators about the potential of “white-space” broadcasting — unused
digital TV channels on the dial. 
Unlike other wireless technologies, white spaces are not affected by
concrete, trees or shrubs and do not require a clear line of sight in order
to work.
By using the existing TV broadcasting network, the new technology could
encourage more competition among Internet providers and, possibly, lower
fees for Internet access. Without the need to lease cables or set up new
towers, new Internet providers could set up quickly at low cost and offer
coast-to-coast Internet access. 
“Our founder, Larry Page, calls it Wi-Fi on steroids,” said Jacob Glick,
Canada policy counsel for Google Inc., which has been one of the most vocal
supporters for white spaces. “For the average person there will be many more
choices on where, how, and how much you pay for your broadband Internet
The new technology will use the digital TV broadcast rollout in the U.S. as
a medium to distribute Internet signals. Because it’s using the broadcasting
network, anyone able to pick up TV signals with a digital antenna will be
able to tap these Internet signals. 
Doing so will provide a cheap and effective way of blanketing a country in
high-speed wireless Internet signals. 
American digital broadcast TV will replace the rabbit-ears on the existing
analogue TV system as early as Feb. 17, although legislation that cleared
Congress yesterday, and still needs President Barack Obama’s signature,
delays that changeover until June. 
Canada is to shut off analogue TV in 2011, and white-space technology could
be implemented here at that time. That’s why Canadian regulators are
listening intently to their U.S. colleagues. 
“Industry Canada is closely monitoring the developments, and testing that is
ongoing in the U.S., with regards to the use of TV white-space spectrum,”
said Stéfanie Power, a spokeswoman for Industry Canada. 
“The department discusses this issue with the FCC on a regular bilateral
basis and we will evaluate the situation if the U.S. eventually has a
successful implementation.” 
The FCC has researched white spaces for years and wants to share its
findings about the technology. 
“It is important that we continue to support ways to expand consumers’
access to cutting-edge wireless products,” said former FCC chairman Kevin
Martin in a news release. “This program will help us to achieve those
New cellular phones are being planned that would operate independently of
existing networks, and would instead access the Internet through white-space
technologies and send and receive calls over the web. High-definition TV
broadcasts and movies can be streamed through white spaces directly to a
person’s laptop, BlackBerry
or iPhone. 
“It takes images and sound and sends them great distances with no
distortion,” said Jake Ward, a spokesman for the Wireless Innovation
Alliance, which has been lobbying for white-space technology to be approved
for general use. “Given we have this empty space and you can move
information further and faster, this is incredibly important to the wireless
The FCC’s board of directors unanimously approved the technology for use in
The emergence of the new technology adds a twist to the upcoming hearings on
new media, which are being held by the Canadian Radio-television and
Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). The federal regulator is trying to
decide whether it should start regulating content on the Internet in the
same way it regulates TV programming. 
Strict rules regarding Canadian content apply to traditional broadcasters.
Until now, the CRTC has taken a hands-off approach to Internet broadcasts. 
The CRTC hearing begins on Feb. 17. 
Technologies such as white spaces are forcing the CRTC to re-visit its
position on Internet content, as more consumers watch TV and movies on the
web —
a trend that white spaces will accelerate. 
The CRTC refused to comment on the technology directly, but a spokesman said
the agency is watching the white-space rollout and communicating regularly
with the FCC. 
Google, Microsoft, Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Phillips Electronics are all
backing the white-space technology. According to industry experts, cellular
phone and computer manufacturers will roll out products capable of receiving
and sending information over white-space technologies within 18 months.
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About Donna Jodhan

Donna Jodhan is an award winning blind author, advocate, sight loss coach, blogger, podcast commentator, and accessibility specialist.
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