Thursday, September 23, 2010

Unanimous Decision by FCC to use TV White Spaces

Today, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) held its open commission meeting in Washington DC, with the decision to authorize the usage of TV White Spaces, at the top of their agenda. After two years of discussions, the FCC unanimously voted to approve the use of this unlicensed spectrum, the unused TV broadcast channels made available by the transition from Analog to Digital TV last year.

Specific items were addressed during this meeting and decisions made included:

  • There was no spectrum sensing requirement mandated on the TV White Spaces Devices, though the Commission encouraged use and development of the technology as confirmed by Julius Knapp’s statement, "[This begins a] New Era of Innovation and Investment for Unlicensed Devices".
  • In every market,wireless microphones would be reserved as a protected entity. Commissioner Baker supported this decision stating "First rule of dynamic spectrum allocation; do no harm [to incumbent spectrum holders]".
  • Large wireless microphone users can register with the Commission for protected entity status in a White Spaces database for a specific time, place and duration as long as channels above 7 are in use.

Spectrum Bridge and our Partner’s accomplishments, regarding our White Spaces trial networks in Claudville, VA, Wilmington, NC, Plumas Sierra, CA and Logan, OH, were noted by the Commissioners as driving this order to this decision point today. It was also stated that the TV White Spaces technology can and will be used in other unlicensed as well as licensed bands and will be a road map for future technology as well as U.S. spectrum allocation policy.

Most noticeably left to the Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) for further discussions were the awarding of the TV White Spaces Database Administrators and TV White Spaces usage regarding border restrictions with Canada and Mexico.

Chairman Genachowski summed up the discussions stating “TV White Spaces is about making the US more globally competitive." Spectrum Bridge’s next deployment utilizing its Spectrum Sharing technology will explore the global potential of TV White Spaces spectrum, enabling new technology and providing an alternative solution to meet the increasing worldwide need for broadband spectrum. To learn more about Spectrum Bridge’s past trial networks, or to stay up to date on future deployments, visit

Chris Duffus, Vice President of Corporate Development

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

New Applications for TV White Spaces in the Latest Deployment

Spectrum Bridge has announced its fourth major TV White Spaces network trial utilizing the vacant spectrum between existing TV channels known as TV White Spaces. This particular deployment, done in conjunction with Google and the Hocking Valley Community Hospital, is important for not only Spectrum Bridge, but the entire wireless industry as it demonstrates how TV White Spaces can provide cost effective broadband access for healthcare applications.

The trial network at the Hocking Valley Community Hospital showcases that there are alternative ways of enhancing health care provider’s connectivity for critical wireless data transfers. To improve broadband connectivity throughout the Logan, Ohio community, a wireless data link was established on a local ISP tower approximately two miles away from the Logan-Hocking County Health Department, providing non-line-of-sight broadband coverage to the health department and other public areas.

There is now Wi-Fi throughout the Hocking Valley Community Hospital as well as outdoor video surveillance providing additional security for hospital operations. A portable TV White Spaces network was also deployed for the Hocking County Emergency Medical Services that allows first responder’s to wirelessly transfer data directly from their emergency vehicles to EMS data systems inside.

The first three trial networks by Spectrum Bridge and our partners demonstrated that the unlicensed spectrum can go further and penetrate walls better than that of some licensed spectrum. The networks have also demonstrated long range broadband using middle and last mile connectivity to residents of the communities. They have also shown that Smart City’s and Smart Grid’s can be implemented using unlicensed frequencies as a cost-effective solution to rural cooperatives and wireless internet service providers. For more information on Spectrum Bridge’s deployments, click here.

- Neeraj Srivastava, VP of Marketing and Business Development

Friday, September 10, 2010

Can Database-Driven Cognitive Radios Solve the Spectrum Crisis?

There is a perceived spectrum scarcity issue facing the wireless industry today. Most allocated spectrum is entirely spoken for, which reinforces the myth that we are running out of spectrum for wireless communications. A simple spectral analysis of commercial spectrum bands indicates that there is up to 90% of unused spectrum at any given time or place. Craig Mathias, author of the white paper Rethinking Spectrum Scarcity – Database-Driven Cognitive Radio, says that “We actually have access to vast quantities of spectrum in any given geographic location, and, given natural signal strength fading due to the inverse power law, we can further multiply efficiency via the reuse of spectrum over distance.”

One solution that Craig proposes towards solving the spectrum crisis is that of a database-driven cognitive radio approach. Cognitive radios are radios that are, “capable of transmitting and receiving across channels covering a potentially very wide range of frequencies.” By utilizing a database-driven networking approach, these radios will be the first step towards efficiently utilizing the unused or idle spectrum at any given point in time.

One example of an area where database-driven cognitive radios can be effective is in the TV White Spaces spectrum. The FCC is proposing that devices operating in these unlicensed frequencies will need to be certified against a TV White Spaces database to ensure that there are no interference issues. Deploying a database-driven cognitive radio in a band like this, which spans from 54MHz to 698MHz, provides a dynamic network approach to allocating spectrum.

TV White Spaces are a prime example of how cognitive radios can communicate with a database, thus enabling the radio to determine the appropriate frequency to operate on without any human interaction. In the future, we can foresee cognitive radios operating across multiple frequencies in different bands, helping to alleviate the perceived spectrum scarcity. For more information on Database-Driven Cognitive Radios, click here.

- Joe Hamilla

Friday, September 3, 2010

Coming Soon - FCC to Deliver Final Rules for TV White Spaces

TV White Spaces, the unlicensed spectrum between television bands, has been a hot topic since the switch from analog to digital TV back in June 2009. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, author Amy Schatz says “Technology and telecommunications companies could soon get access to unused TV airwaves, allowing them to introduce new wireless gadgets and services, under rules that Federal Communications Commission officials are close to putting into final form.” The FCC is expected to vote on the "TV White Spaces Second Memorandum Opinion and Order" on September 23, 2010.

The announcement is long overdue for industry stakeholders such as broadcasters and wireless providers who have been waiting for the FCC to open up the access to this unlicensed spectrum since 2002. Industry leaders such as Cisco and Motorola will now have the ability to certify devices that can operate in these frequencies, ultimately leading the way for the first commercial launch of the TV White Spaces marketplace.

Allowing the spectrum to be delivered on an unlicensed basis allows companies to further demonstrate alternative solutions to alleviating the “spectrum scarcity” issue facing the wireless industry, while still helping to achieve the goals of the National Broadband Plan. The TV White Spaces frequencies will need to be managed by a database that ensures devices will not interfere among one another. Database driven networks open the door for innovative solutions regarding the acquisition and distribution of spectrum assets. For more information on spectrum sharing through databases, click here.

Spectrum Bridge has already demonstrated three of the nation’s first network trials that are still fully operable on experimental licenses from the FCC. The first network was deployed in Claudvile, Virginia and provided broadband access to residents and businesses in the community. The second deployment in Wilmington, North Carolina, demonstrated that the unlicensed spectrum can be used to further enhance “Smart City” applications such as remote water monitoring, security and Wi-Fi access to the city park, as well as traffic monitoring for public safety. The third trial was launched in Plumas-Sierra County exhibiting the usability of this spectrum for "Smart Grid" applications. To read the success stories highlighting the applications used in each of the three network trials mentioned, click here.

Be sure to check back next week for information on a fourth network launch using the unlicensed TV White Spaces spectrum.

- Andrew Pielack