Google champions unlicensed NZ spectrum use

Google has its say on the reuse of spectrum from analogue switch-off

Google says slices of spectrum freed when analogue television is switched off, also called the "digital dividend", should be assigned to general unlicensed use as a stimulus to innovative broadband applications and devices.

The recommendation is contained in a submission (pdf) to the government’s review on digital broadcasting.

Advances in technology, such as spectrum sensing, have allowed spectrum to be made available [to many] devices and users, rather than exclusively licensed or sold to one entity,” Google says. “Users need only comply with an established set of technical standards in order to use the spectrum.” WiFi is an existing example of such use.

Google and other companies are lobbying in the US for unused channels in the broadcast TV band ('white spaces') to be opened to unlicensed use for innovative technologies, the submission says.

The government report, under the imprint of the Ministry of Culture and Heritage, is strong on promoting diversity in the “broadcasting like” content produced in and delivered to New Zealand.

“The internet is clearly capable of supporting the principles identified by the government as important in a ‘diversity scenario’, says Google’s submission, signed by Carolyn Dalton, senior policy counsel in the Sydney office. To perform this role, however, it should be “free of unnecessary regulation”, the submission says. “Traditional broadcasting regulatory models cannot and should not be mechanically applied to the new media environment.”

Google also registers support for what has been called “net neutrality”—"the non-discriminatory, decentralised and open architectural principles that have made the internet an unparalleled engine for economic growth, innovation and social discourse.

“It is imperative that network intermediaries, such as Internet service providers, do not unduly favour particular sites or applications over others,” Google says.

Google supports minimal regulation in other pertinent areas such as online advertising (its major revenue stream) and protection of children from unsuitable content.

“Regulation of online advertising, particularly by applying traditional models, is premature and risks obstructing this evolving, dynamic market,” Google says.

“Child safety in the online environment is best achieved through empowering parents, education, media literacy, cooperation with law enforcement, coordination among industry and the use of safety tools.”

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