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