Mobile operators have been looking lasciviously at the spectrum freed up by the switchover from analogue TV to digital. They want the extra spectrum for 4G LTE services to satiate our appetite for mobile broadband.
white space tech can use unlicensed spectrum
In the US, the FCC now permits the use of white space devices (WSDs) without a licence. In the UK, Ofcom recently also announced it intends to allow white space devices to operate without a licence, with regulation set to appear next year.
Practically, the technology faced resistance from broadcasters concerned with potential TV signal interference and with TV equipment such as microphones. This prompted development of management systems to mitigate it. Such solutions direct devices to clear white space channels, so-called "spectrum harvesting".
Super Wi-Fi goes live in North Carolina
The first white space-based smart city switched on in Wilmington, North Carolina back in January. There, Spectrum Bridge offers a cloud-based spectrum management platform that uses those TV frequencies left behind by the digital TV transition. No surprise Wilmington is the first US city to have already made the transition to digital broadcasting. Now the city is using the tech to enable public Internet access and broadband-based video security systems, under the monikor of Super Wi-Fi.
With the digital switchover in the UK set to reach its finale later this year (PDF), a company called Neul recently delivered 16 megabits per second over a range of 10 kilometers in UK tests. "That puts white spaces on a par with 4G," notes Akshay Sharma, Gartner’s research director.
I've been writing about technology for nearly 20 years, including editing industry magazines Connect and Communications International. In 2002 I co-founded Futurity Media with Anthony Plewes. My focus in Futurity Media is in emerging technologies, social media and future gazing. As a graduate of philosophy & science, I have studied futurology & foresight to the post-grad level.