White Space Trial Completed

Posted by Sam Churchill on

The FCC’s TV white spaces database public trial period has come to an end, reports Spectrum Bridge.

The 45 day trial started on September 19th and was successfully completed on November 2nd. Spectrum Bridge formally filed a Summary Report of the TVWS database trial which can be found here on the FCC’s electronic filing system.

The company is now one step closer to the official certification of the world’s first TV white spaces database. The FCC will now open a comment period, which allows all interested parties to submit any final comments.

Spectrum Bridge believes “white spaces”, utilizing unused television frequencies for WiFi-like connectivity, has the potential to revolutionize the wireless industry.

With the trial completed, the FCC could award certification very quickly, in theory allowing the first white space devices to appear on US shelves by the end of 2011, notes The Register.

Spectrum Bridge expects the first users will be organizations such as power companies, using white space devices to read meters or operate remote funtions.

White space devices are required to check with an FCC-certified database to see what bands are not being used in the immediate area. Currently there are no FCC-certified databases. This trial, one of around 10, will allow competing companies to provide that database services.

The Spectrum Bridge trial used live data, and allowed anyone to log on and see which bands were available in which parts of the USA. Only a handful of the 65 ticketed incidence reports (pdf) from the trial involved factual discrepancies. The vast majority arose from users failing to understand what the service was trying to do, reports The Register’s Bill Ray.

White Spaces may be well suited to deliver rural broadband, although speeds beyond 3-4 Mbps are unlikely. The FCC estimated last year that 9.2 million U.S. households, or about 26 million people, don’t have access to wired broadband. Excluding those who can get broadband wirelessly, the number shrinks to 5 million households or 14 million people. That’s 4.5 percent of the population.

U.S. based Carlson Wireless and Neul are jointly developing and market a new white space radio aimed at Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISPs). They claim the technology will bring affordable broadband to millions around the world. The Neul/Carlson system gives WISPs access to more than 100MHz of high quality white space radio spectrum in the UHF band.

With approval from both the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Ofcom (the UK’s spectrum regulatory entity), the companies plan to introduce the product to the open market by year’s end.

NeulNET uses their own “Weightless” standard for whitespace radios, that enables both low speed and high speed data. Weightless is said to be a fully open standard; with users granted a royalty free license to the core IP.

In the United States, unused “white space” television frequencies are primarily in the UHF band. White space standard proposals also include the IEEE 802.11af and 802.22 and those from the White Spaces Coalition. The White Spaces Coalition consists of eight large technology companies that includes Microsoft, Google, Dell, HP, Intel, Philips, Earthlink, and Samsung.

The White Spaces Coalition has warned Congress, “If unlicensed spectrum in the TV band is eliminated, the United States will not for the foreseeable future be able to recover the economic opportunity and will likely fall behind the rest of the world.”

Three incentive auction bills have been introduced in Congress this month. Incentive Auctions would auction off unused television channels and give some of the proceeds to broadcasters. It would likely remove “free” unlicensed white spaces, and sell them off to the highest bidder.

Under the Administration’s plan, the government would fund a dedicated a $10B, LTE-enabled, first responder broadband network, nationwide with the proceeds of the auction. Incentive auctions would raise funds by selling television spectrum.

There are basically two pieces to incentive auctions:

  1. Smaller broadcasters might vacate their dedicated channel and co-habitate on a digitial subchannel on a competitor’s channel.
  2. Currently unused television channels “white spaces” would be sold to the highest bidder (probably big telcos).

Yochai Benkler, Professor of law at Harvard University, says “incentive auctions” threaten the future of wireless innovation by eliminating unlicensed spectrum.

Related Dailywireless articles include; Huawei to Trial White Space TD-LTE, White Space Trialed, NTIA “Finds” 1.5 GHz of Federal Spectrum, UK Delays 4G Auction Ofcom: White Spaces by 2013, UK Gets Free Public WiFi, Europe’s Digital Divide Auction,

Posted by Sam Churchill on Monday, November 7th, 2011 at 2:23 pm .

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