Weightless, the group hoping to create industry standards for devices in the white spaces spectrum, has unveiled its first commercial silicon. So far, the FCC has only approved one white spaces device — a 1.5-lb. rectangular-shaped radio from Florida-based KTS Wireless.
The Weightless radio transceiver will utilize the unused TV spectrum – approved for licence-exempt use in the US and under review by many other regulators around the world.
The UK-based Weightless Special Interest Group, founded by start-up Neul and backed by larger supporters like ARM, is now offering the chipset to partners for testing in products for the internet of things. The single-chip transceiver, called Iceni, can work in all the UHF frequencies from 470MHz to 790MHz.
Other White Space standards are more heavily focused on long range broadband wireless.
- The 802.11af standard uses White Spaces to deliver broadband to urban users. The topology is closer to WiFi than cellular, although recent implementations can use ganged channels, where available, for faster speeds. A trio of Tokyo-based technology developers have created a prototype white-space device based on the IEEE 802.af Wireless Regional Area Network standard.
- The 802.22 standard uses White Spaces to deliver broadband to rural users. It doesn’t do mesh, but rather uses a topology like cellular with OFDM modulation. It is designed to enable wireless broadband over several miles.
The Wireless Innovation Alliance is primarily a lobby group, committed to working with policymakers to promote unlicensed spectrum in the TV band, while The White Space Alliance promotes the development, deployment and use of standards based White Space products and interoperability between vendors, similar to the WiFi Alliance.
Cognitive radio chips are used by the two major white space standards groups; IEEE 802.11af and IEEE 802.22. The maximum possible data rate per 6-MHz channel ranges from 18 to 22 Mbits/s. The 802.22 spec was designed for fixed rural use, operating on 6 MHz wide channels. In contrast, the 802.11af standard can aggregate channels into 5, 10, and 20 MHz bandwidths, and is designed for both mobile and fixed devices.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski is spearheading the public WiFi effort on the grounds that it could lead to whole new industries of products and services, but the idea would also serve the agency’s mission to reduce the digital divide by expanding the availability of high-speed Internet access and reducing its cost.
The effort has powerful backing from tech companies like Google and Microsoft. They argue in a brief to the FCC that more public WiFi access will spur the use of “millions of devices that will compose the coming Internet of things” — and, in turn, provide new markets for their products and services.
On the other side, dominant telecommunications companies like AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, Intel and Qualcomm have already begun a lobbying process to oppose the FCC’s plans, arguing instead that the unused portion of the spectrum should be auctioned to private companies. And no wonder; wireless communications is a nearly $180 billion a year industry, and providing a chunk of the spectrum to the public for free could lower the barriers of entry for potential competitors.
What the FCC is talking about, though, would not completely upend the current wireless or broadband Internet markets. The proposal to repurpose some of the spectrum now allocated to broadcast television includes auctioning most of the airwaves for wireless companies while leaving a relatively small portion free for public use.
The companies who oppose the FCC’s plan argue that the agency’s mission to serve the public interest would best be achieved through the revenues from an auction of the airwaves. The last such auction, in 2008, generated nearly $20 billion for the government.
That’s a substantial amount of money, to be sure, but the relatively small portion of the spectrum that the commission now proposes to leave open to unlicensed use would be worth only a fraction of that — a pittance compared to the economic activity that could be generated through the creation of new products and services to take advantage of the unlicensed spectrum.
We live and compete globally in the digital era, and so from an economic perspective, providing increased opportunity for American entrepreneurs to innovate is an important step in the right direction. Equally as important, providing greater access to information for all Americans, regardless of level of income, holds vital moral and economic implications for our country’s future.
Touted by advocates as “Wi-Fi on steroids,” unlicensed TV Band Devices can now boot up in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Washington DC, Virginia, and North Carolina.
T-Mobile USA outlined its 600 MHz position last month; minimizing any “unlicensed” use of the spectrum, lobbying for 600 MHz interoperability, and pushing for spectrum caps so one or two carriers couldn’t dominate.
T-Mobile’s plan would basically create 35 x 35 MHz of paired spectrum and seven paired 5 MHz blocks, limiting what the company contends are wasteful guard bands. Supplemental blocks could add to the downstream bandwidth, through carrier aggregation.
Related Dailywireless articles include; T-Mobile Files 600 MHz Proposal – Eliminating “Free” Spectrum, Kenyan Solar Powered White Space Network, FCC Supports National White Space Networking, War 2.0 for Unlicensed Spectrum, Congressional Battle over Unlicensed Spectrum, FCC: TV Auction in 2014, Spectrum War: Unlicensed, Shared and Auctioned, White Space Radio using 802.11af Demoed, FCC: TV Auction in 2014 , FCC Dishes Dirt, Talks Up 3.5 GHz, Spectrum Bridge Partners with Carlson Wireless, Incentive Auctions: Going Nuclear, AT&T Fears FCC’s Incentive Auction Plans, FCC Moves on TV Frequency Auction, Google and Microsoft Want UK White Space?, Microsoft Announced Narrow Channel Whitespace, Microsoft Announced Narrow Channel Whitespace, FCC Authorizes White Space Service in Wilmington, Genachowski Lobbies for Unlicensed White Spaces,