White Space Getting Hot

Carl Weinschenk

White space is a promising dark horse in efforts to bring broadband connectivity to rural areas.


That initiative got a boost this week, as the Federal Communications Commission took several steps that experts say will speed the process. InformationWeek offers a story on the moves, and starts off with a good definition of white space and the issues surrounding it.


White space is the spectrum that currently lies fallow between broadcast channels. The idea is to use these buffers as unlicensed wireless spectrum. These efforts, however, are opposed by a variety of interests, including broadcasters, carriers and wireless microphone companies, the story says.


The news is that FCC is pushing for the creation of databases to track available spectrum in various markets. These databases would be important enablers as an industry tries to form around the diffuse and amorphous bits and pieces of spectrum.


Experimentation and research is ongoing. In October, UK regulator Ofcom published a discussion paper on white space, a sure sign of its interest. Also that month, Spectrum Bridge created a white space-based network in Claudville, Va. The network, which is working with an 18-month license, offers speeds as fast as 15 megabits per second (Mbps).

Mobile Dev & Design offers more details on the goings-on in Claudville.
The network, which Spectrum Bridge set up in conjunction with Dell, Microsoft and the TDF Foundation, uses industrial telemetry and control gear employing frequency shift keying (FSK) modulation on channel 10, which is in the 192 to 198 MHz range. A modem connects to a high-speed fiber line and, through it, to local Wi-Fi hotspots.

White space seems a good deal like broadband over powerline (BPL). Both are potentially useful technologies that will struggle to find a niche. The good news for the nascent sector is that it seems to have backing-or at least interest-from heavyweights Dell and Microsoft.

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