White Spaces: Real Deal?

Fierce Wireless has a review of White Space radio technology.

Author Tammy Parker says it could soon become a major force with ground-breaking devices and services.

White-spaces are unused TV channels. Depending upon world region, that spectrum generally falls somewhere in the 450-800 MHz range.

In the United States, TV bands consist of six-megahertz channels primarily in the 470-698 MHz UHF band. Rural areas with few TV stations contain huge swaths of available white space.

Applications for TV white space include public safety, smart grids, ad-hoc mobile networks, home networking, one-way and two-way video, rural broadband delivery and more.

Yesterday Neul announced the world’s first city-wide, white space network in Cambridge, England.

They’re showcasing the world’s first-ever smart electricity meter reading over a white space network. Their network uses five base stations around the city of Cambridgee, operating in partnership with Bglobal Metering, the UK’s leading smart metering company. The network set up follows 10 months of testing around Cambridge by the Cambridge TV White Spaces Consortium which includes heavy hitters such as Microsoft, Alcatel-Lucent, BBC, Nokia, Samsung, and others.

The network operates using the Weightless standard, which is being developed by Neul and other interested parties. Rick Rotondo, vice president of marketing for xG Technology, says, “In TV white space, the database will tell you what channels you can use. Sensing will tell you what channels out of those you should use.” He also co-founded Spectrum Bridge, the first company to win FCC designation as a white-space database administrator.

The first commercial White Spaces network in the U.S. launched in January, 2012, in North Carolina. So far, the FCC has only approved one white spaces device — a 1.5-lb. rectangular-shaped radio from Florida-based KTS Wireless.

The KTS device, used in the Hanover NC network, is a small, last-mile, transmitter. It uses the company’s frequency agile radio which received FCC approval Dec. 26, making it the first unlicensed transmitter allowed to operate in the TV band.

According to Rotondo, “You actually can utilize spectrum far better and increase your network capacity far more by using all that processing capacity in a cognitive radio to do interference mitigation.” For instance, enabling devices to identify interference and then null it out allows them to continue operating on a channel full of RF pollution. Such an approach, he said, provides “a solution for the spectrum have-nots–the guys who don’t own a lot of spectrum.”

John Malyar, chief architect for interconnection solutions at Telcordia, now owned by Ericsson, became the second certified white-space database administrator in March.

Both Malyar and Rotondo believe the 1755-1850 MHz band might eventually be ripe for dynamic spectrum allocation, according to the Fierce Wireless article. The NTIA recently “found” 95 MHz of spectrum in that band, which could be repurposed for commercial wireless use and might even be shared between federal agencies and commercial users.

The CTIA hopes the reallocated 1755-1780MHz band will be paired with AWS-3 on 2155-2180MH. Free White Space spectrum is not their priority.

The IEEE 802.22-2011 standard is designed to accommodate a wide variety of applications using cognitive radio technology in Television White Spaces (TVWS). These applications include long range and regional area smart grid, critical infrastructure monitoring, and triple play services providing voice, video and data.

The Neul and Carlson system give users up to 16 Mbps of bandwidth for each available vacant TV channel. It delivers long range, non-line-of-sight links. Designed specifically for the needs of wireless Internet service providers (WISPs), RuralConnect has been priced to make it immediately commercially viable. Samples and development kits are available now, with volume shipments of the new system to start as soon as Q2, 2012.

“We have the regulatory experience, tactical partnerships, and pre-emptive technology to successfully deliver this market-disruptive product. RuralConnect is a proprietary combination of Carlson’s hardware and Neul’s software, resulting in an affordable, high-performance system that is attracting the attention of investors globally,” said Jim Carlson, CEO of Carlson.

In white spaces radio, each Base Station (BS) would have a GPS receiver which would allow its position to be reported. This information would be sent back to centralized servers (in the USA these would be managed by the FCC), which would respond with available TV channels in the area. Other proposals would allow local spectrum sensing only, where the BS would decide by itself which channels are available for communication. A combination of these two approaches is also envisioned. Channel Bonding uses more than one channel for Tx / Rx.

The FCC is also planning to auction television frequencies for licensed broadband wireless. Currently US television uses channel 2 (54 Mhz) through channel 51 (698 MHz). The FCC hopes to vacate channel 31-51 and auction them for mobile broadband. The “incentive auction” of channels in the UHF television band is expected to raise some $25 billion.

Auctioning 120 MHz between channels 31 and 51 should still leave 29 (“free”) DTV channels between Channel 2 and Channel 30. Some 75 years ago, a high “public service” value was placed on radio and television for disseminating news and information. Today local television stations are largely controlled by group owners…and don’t pay taxpayers one dime for the privilege.

Unlicensed white space radios would automatically find unused VHF/UHF spectrum and utilize it for multi-point communications, much like long distance Wi-Fi.

Related Dailywireless articles include; Microsoft Announced Narrow Channel Whitespace, FCC Authorizes White Space Service in Wilmington, FCC Gets Unlicensed White Spaces in Payroll Tax Bill, White Space Show Down, Genachowski Lobbies for Unlicensed White Spaces, Universal Service Reform Passed, Microsoft Announced Narrow Channel Whitespace, FCC Authorizes White Space Service in Wilmington, White Space Legislation Goes Dark, White Space War, Bills to Kill Unlicensed White Space?, White Space Trial Completed, White Space Trialed, Huawei to Trial White Space TD-LTE, 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 .

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