What Are Wireless White Spaces?

Mt. Wilson TV Antennas Above Los Angeles
What will "White Spaces" do to the cellular business?  Will White Spaces spring up an entirely new industry that enables cheaper more efficient use of devices, data and advertising?  

Spectrum is an incredibly valuable asset for wireless cell phone providers and any technology that allows greater use of spectrum can be disruptive to incumbents (AT&T & Verizon) who don't want change.  The Wi-Fi industry is a rapidly growing industry built on top of a tiny slice of spectrum, discarded by early radio scientists.  White spaces have been considered unusable, since radios could not operate without causing interference in the neighboring channels.  However, today we have new technology to modulate signals so that to the legacy devices.  Big carriers cry foul that new free transmissions in white spaces between their channels might interfere.

"White Spaces" are frequencies unused specifically assigned for a purpose. For example Google is considering Ad Supported WiFi using the white space spectrum as free wifi starts to gain momentum to compete with expensive 4G.  The switchover to digital television in 2009 has freed up large areas between about 50 MHz and 700 MHz. In US abandoned old rabbit ear television frequencies that used UHF "700-megahertz" band, covering TV channels 52 to 69 (698 to 806 MHz).

Various proposals, including IEEE 802.11af, IEEE 802.22 and those from the White Spaces Coalition, have advocated using white spaces left from "rabbit ears" TV to provide wireless broadband Internet access.  The White Spaces Coalition (WSC) is a group of companies devoted to making use of white space in the analog television spectrum to offer wireless broadband.  It is a powerful group that aims to disrupt the dump pipe oligopoly:   Microsoft (NYSE: MSFT), Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), Dell (Nasdaq: DELL), HP (NYSE: HP), Intel (Nasdaq: INTC), Philips, Earthlink, and Samsung are the group's public members; there are also a couple of Coalition members who prefer to remain unknown for fear of cannibalizing their cozy relationships with AT&T and Verizon who want to squash the effort. The group was in the news recently when it presented a device built by Microsoft to the FCC for testing.

First White Space access points being tested by Rice University. A Houston restaurant worker is the first user of a prototype wireless access point using low frequency signals in the so-called White Spaces between unused UHF digital TV signals  Read more

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