back to article Microsoft: 'We will save America from foreign domination'

Microsoft has a plan for sending high-speed net traffic over America's television white spaces. And it's sure the country will eat some serious foreign dust if this plan gets snuffed. "Across the nation, there are vast swathes of unoccupied TV spectrum, and we - along with other tech companies - are asking that this spectrum …


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  1. Herby

    Funny they didn't have it working at the confab.

    From the looks of the picture, all the people were using wireless mics. The whitespace grabbers would have swamped out the mics and nobody would have been heard!

    They should go to 2.4 GHz where they belong!

  2. Henry Wertz Gold badge

    No to white space usage

    Yep! If Microsoft pushes this through, it could well be quite disasterous. They've ALREADY had at least two prototypes (one in 2007 one in 2008) that miserably failed testing. The 2007 model failed to detect analog TV 20% of the time, and strong digital TV signals 50% of the time; it also didn't pick up mics. The 2008 model also failed. Microsoft claimed they were faulty -- tough! If the system fails in any way than failing off, it's a failure -- last thing I need is neighbors "faulty" Microsoft hardware killing TV reception.

    I also don't think the band should be licensed off to the cell cos though -- if this were done, there'd be no ability for anyone to add a new TV station, they'd have to outbid telephone companies for the spectrum!

  3. Charles Manning

    White space does have a purpose

    The space between channels is required for automatic tuning circuitry to be able to tell where the signal is. If the spaces are stuffed with signal then many receivers cannot "lock on" to the valid signals.

  4. paulc

    contention management...

    surely whitespace grabbers check the frequency is unused first before grabbing it???

    I blame the wireless mic manufacturers... fancy assuming no-one else is using the channel and not broadcasting a channel in use "signal" that can be easily removed from the audio...

    When whitespace comes out, it'll be up to devices who intend to use it to manage clashes and back off to try other channels...

  5. Blubster

    Microsoft: 'We will save America from foreign domination`

    Yes. But who will save the world from Microsoft domination?

  6. Christian Berger

    What I would do

    I personally would use it for open meshed networks. It's a public resource so it should be used by the public. Maybe you could use it as a new variation of WLAN on which you open a tunnel to your own router over the meshed network.

  7. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    More utopia

    Just like net neutrality a silly idea proposed by those who put marketing before engineering. As if our future happiness is dependent solely upon oodles of wireless internet bandwidth. We already have tried and tested technologies for wireless internet (satellite, UMTS and possibly even WiMax, WiFi itself is pretty shitty - no conflict or power management) that doesn't fuck up other systems. If you want them across the country then licensing is pretty much the only way to ensure this is done properly as with any limited resource. NB. this doesn't mean I think the current system of allocation is perfect but it's probably better than a manufacturer driven land grab. Oh, and for the security paranoid - how do you expect the spooks the trap the terrorists if they make effective use of unlicensed equipment?

    Mine's the foil-lined one with the tin can phone.

  8. tempemeaty
    Thumb Down

    This is your brain...this is your brain with more electromagnetic spectrum

    That white space on your CAT scan is where the tumor has replaced normal brain cells...

    Health testing is needed here.

    Maybe MS's "Monkey Boy" can volunteer?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    'We will save America from foreign domination`

    We just need to hire some more cheap foreign workers to do it...

  10. ImaGnuber
    Gates Horns


    Microsoft has put out dodgy, insecure systems (so I hear) for many years and in so doing has exposed tens (hundreds?) of millions of Americans to the activities of countless n'er-do-wells so it is a bit precious of them to claim any concern for America's well-being at this point.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ AC

    We can send you some Kosovan immigrants if you want ... I'm sure we can find a loft or two full of them .

  12. Julian

    Microsoft: 'We will save America from foreign domination

    Excuse me but I thought the rest of the world needed saving from Microsoft and American domination!

    Have I got it wrong?

  13. r

    Whitespace *is* important

    For a start it stops all the text from flowing into one 'orrible mess on my web pages. And what will the manufacturers of Tipp-ex do if there's no whitspace left?

  14. Kevin Kitts

    This is very concerning...

    This is the start of two internets: one public (PAX) and one private (corporate). ISPs across the nation will be required to have a set of PAX servers and a set of corporate servers. Everyone will be equal and net-neutral on PAX, just at corporate and governmentally acceptible usage limits (with eventual limits on content). Eventually, private computers will be forced to use the PAX network, and the Internet as we know it will cease to exist. The two internets shall never meet, so the public will never know what the corporatations (and governments?) are doing behind their backs in front of their faces.

    You will need to be "cleared" and vouched for before you can touch CorpNet. You will sign a non-disclosure agreement, which will have a life-obliterating lawsuit clause in it, should you decide to be a whistle-blower. It will also have a blacklist clause for the same reason - if you talk, you will never work again. The public does not need to know what we do to them, and you will not tell them, will you? No, you're one of our good slaves, so we won't have to punish you.

    Every time I hear "free Wi-Fi", I think to William Gibson's book "Neuromancer", and I see his dark vision taking form. Why do we NEED free Wi-Fi everywhere? Do we WANT to be tracked everywhere for the rest of our lives? "Here a MAC, there a MAC, everywhere a MAC-MAC...Old MacDonald knows where you are, at the corner bar". The public better wake up and see the cage being built around them.

  15. Chris C

    It would be funny if it wasn't so sad

    'We will save America from foreign domination' - this from the company that is begging Congress to allow more H-1B visas so they can import more foreign workers. I guess foreign domination is OK as long as it's foreign workers working for a US company.

    "...we say 'Let the market decide what the best use is.'" - how exactly can the "market" choose when the decision of whether or not to auction/license the spectrum is made before the "market" is even aware of it? Unless, of course, the CTIA defines itself as the "market".

    On another note/rant, am I the only one who thinks it's incredibly egotistical to use the term "Americans" to describe US citizens? Canada, Mexico, and the countries of Central and South America are also "Americans".

  16. Tom


    Using wireless is innovation?

    And what happens when MS is 'foreign' owned?

  17. Ole Juul

    Re: It would be funny if it wasn't so sad

    Chris C said: "On another note/rant, am I the only one who thinks it's incredibly egotistical to use the term "Americans" to describe US citizens?"

    Nope. I think so too. The name "USians" would be more suitable, and I've heard it used on occasion. The advantage of that name is that people from Hawaii would be included.

  18. Gary Turner

    Get a clue

    The term American applies to citizens of the United States of America, as Mexican applies to citizens of los Estados Unidos de México, Canada has Canadians and Guatemala has Guatemalans. The continents are North America and South America, and denizens of these continents are North and South Americans. There is no land mass, "America".

    Find a more meaningful nit to pick. Certainly, check your prejudices and presumptions before exhibiting your ignorances in public.

  19. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Or make us the punch-line of an international joke

    Take a look at the current WiFi spectrum. Odds are you'll find several neighbors with wide-open Windows networks and a municipal WAP that's saturated with garbage traffic. Imagine increasing the coverage to multiply the number of computers in range by 500. Is that supposed to be a good thing? is an auto-ignore bot. says your mail is rejected because you mentioned a topic of abuse. How can either one of these clowns manage a massive public network? The airwaves will be flooded with botnet traffic and hash from broken transceivers. Giving these two companies any RF bandwidth is a total waste of precious resources.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Face it

    If microsoft think its a great idea, then it is for... microsoft, everyone else including their partners will get shafted.


  21. Pierre
    Thumb Down

    @Chris and Gary

    America IS the whole chunk of land, but at some point someone said "We, the USA, decided that from now on America would apply to us and us alone.Go get another name."

    On the same note, "We, the USA, decided that we don't have to use national domain names. Go find one, our gov will be .gov not .gov.usa. After all, our gov is the world's gov."

    Actually, the way it happened is a bit funnier: unless you force them to think about it, USians are in general genuinely unaware that there is something around the USA. Earth=America=USA, ain't it? That's why the Pirate Bay and other similar companies keep receiving mails compelling them to comply with US laws.

  22. eddiewrenn

    Microsoft: 'We will save America from foreign domination'

    (Unless they leave a backdoor open)

  23. amanfromMars Silver badge

    A SurReal Evolution........ :-)

    Whoever is Running the Uncle Sam Franchise is certainly making a Hash of IT. Are there no Red cards in their Systems. No One to say Off, you had More than your Chance and you Blew IT?

    Crikey, that's a Recipe for Disaster at Home.

    "That's why the Pirate Bay and other similar companies keep receiving mails compelling them to comply with US laws." ... By Pierre Posted Sunday 15th June 2008 15:15 GMT

    The Modern Take on Begging Letters, Pierre.

    There is no problem though, is there, whenever no Just Laws are Broken?

  24. Justin White

    @ Chris C and Pierre

    Actually, while the rest of the world mocked our attempt at democracy, we called ourselves the "United States of America". No one else was using the term at the time, so stick it if you don't like it. Americans don't really care about what other people call us (and never have).

    Secondly, I find it incredibly insulting that anyone outside the US would dare think that we aren't aware of the rest of the world. D-Day should have proved that. Otherwise, the UK might still be a heap of rubble and the French would be eating Wienerschnitzel and making cuckoo-cuckoo clocks. Again, we don't really care what people say about us, but everyone sure wants our help.

    Mines the one with the big FUCK YOU printed on the back.

  25. David

    Microsoft domination?

    >>Yes. But who will save the world from Microsoft domination?

    Google will.

  26. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Unambiguous State of Adolescence

    " Americans don't really care about what other people call us (and never have).

    Secondly, I find it incredibly insulting that anyone outside the US would dare think that we aren't aware of the rest of the world. .... Mines the one with the big FUCK YOU printed on the back." ..... By Justin White Posted Sunday 15th June 2008 17:59 GMT

    Which pretty much confirms, in no uncertain terms, the problem and the problems they are creating, Justin. Time to grow up and pull on the long trousers, and start to learn about Real Life and how IT dDelivers it Virtually. IT will be costly* though ... but worth every single red cents but that shouldn't overly concern Uncle Sam whenever he's saddled up with all these wannabes delivering Pie in the Sky and Broken Dreams ....

    * costly is always relative and subjective, is it not?......... and whenever something [Beta than just Good] can be provided Perfectly for Free, its Worth and Value in the Capitalist System, Sky Rockets........ which is rather Enigmatic but Perfectly in Keeping with the Nature of the Beast

  27. Dave Bell

    I don't think either side is right

    Anyone remember CB radio?

    That's uncontrolled spectrum use (there are licences).

    And just auctioning off the space is the regulatory authority refusing to do its job.

    Microsoft's ideas are just as broken as those of the people who want to bribe the FCC into giving them an exclusive property. In American broadcasting and legal history, the radio spectrum scarce is a public asset, which must be regulated for the general public good. It seems a pretty good base for working out answers to these problems.

    Right now, corporate America seems to have too much power, and I don't expect anyone to come up with a decent answer.

    And I don't expect a decent answer when the problem comes up here. But at least, as the people in the middle, the EU doesn't quite seem a coporate shill.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I get a sneaking feeling that if someone other than MS was touting this, the vast majority of its critics would think it was a great idea.

  29. Ascylto

    @Justin White

    "Americans don't really care about what other people call us (and never have)."

    "we don't really care what people say about us"

    So why are you so keen to point this out if you don't care?

    With regard to D-Day ... certainly, we have much to thank the USA for regarding their LOAN which was only recently repaid and, more importantly, the huge loss of life expended ostensibly to oppose dictatorship. Nonetheless, the US entered the last World War only after its own navy was smashed by the Japanese and for self-interest. I don't say that in a derogatory sense as self-interest is always the most important factor in who wars with whom ... let's just not pretend that it was all about big-heartedness and democracy!

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    @Justin White

    Yep, I say a little prayer to the ever victorious Red Army every night. The liberators of Europe from fascism.

    And I remember Churchill's problems with the yanks. Unfortunately we are still experiencing them.

    Paris - cos she's listerine as well

  31. Nick Pettefar

    @Justin White

    Ummm, We don't.


  32. NRT


    The problem for radio microphones is that they are very low powered (200 - 300mW) & they run on batteries.

    The proposed whitespace devices transmit at a far higher power & so will not 'hear' the radio mic if it is beyond it's reception range. The microphone's receiver will however hear the whitespace transmitter.

    Because the microphones run from batteries they are switched on as late as possible to ensure they last through the performance. I.E. there is no signal to detect until the performance is about to start, far to late to reassign all the microphone channels.

  33. TeeCee Gold badge


    "But if we don't license it and put it into the hands of companies that will invest in infrastructure to develop, it's going to be wasted."

    Actually means:

    "But if we don't license it and put it into the hands of companies that will get anyone using it to pay through the nose for the privilege, this golden opportunity to get stinking rich for doing f*** all is going to be wasted."

  34. Andrew Moore

    @Justin White

    >Secondly, I find it incredibly insulting that anyone outside the US would dare think

    >that we aren't aware of the rest of the world. D-Day should have proved that.

    >Otherwise, the UK might still be a heap of rubble

    Sorry mate, the Battle of Britain was won long before you septics were drop kicked into WWII by the nips.

    [Mines the one that says "No USA, you did not single handedly win WWII"]

  35. Chris iverson

    Yay nationalism


    Yurpian: my dicks BIGGER!!!!

    Merkin: NO!, MY dicks BIGGER!!!!

    Yurpian: NO, NO, NO

    Merkin: HA HA Im gonna mushroom stamp your forehead with my magnificent cock.

    Yurpian: YOU don't even know what a mushroom looks like you ninny.

    Merkin: sure do, hit one in my truck.

    Yurpian: your stupid and fat

    Merkin: You stink and have bad teeth

    etc, etc, etc

    I could go one but it got boring after the 3rd line

    ahh yes thats the one that says "your all a bunch of fools" on the back

  36. Mitch Russell

    But what about...

    Black space, brown space, yellow space, and red space?

    Really, my argument that this technology will not fly. It is a throwback to Aloha Net. Large collision domains. 20% to 30% utilization results in saturation. With RF technology, you don't have the bandwidth for individual links and switched type technology.

    DSL provides the best isolation. Cable does have some collisions, but the scope of the domain is more limited.

    We need to go on a high-fiber diet for both both DSL and Cable. That is the best cure for the Internet constipation.

  37. Scott A Stroud
    Paris Hilton

    MIcrosoft, whitespace & the Easter bunny

    If anyone believes MS's true motiviation is altruisitc, then I assume they must also believe in the Easter bunny, tooth fairy, & global warming. Make no mistake, there's $$ tied to their motive. In business, always ask the question- who stands to benefit financially in the deal?

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