Microsoft, Aunty BBC, BT, and others are trialing so-called Super Wi-Fi in Cambridge. They've formed the Cambridge TV White Spaces Consortium to see how spare UHF TV spectrum can be used for mobile data and to fill in rural broadband notspots.
- On the one hand, there seems to be a shedload of spare spectrum hanging around.
- On The Other Hand, reliably finding these white spaces, and not interfering with other users is trickier than it looks.
Plus, today's skateboarding duck: Everything Great About YouTube...
Anh Nguyen reports:
The Cambridge TV White Spaces Consortium ... [is] looking to use unused TV spectrum to support the ... growing number of mobile devices, particularly in rural areas. ... [It] works in a similar way to WiFi, but ... travels further and [is] better at penetrating walls.
Hotspots will include local ... commercial and residential premises. ... People from industry will be invited to ... demonstrations. The technologies that will be tested include ... video and audio content from the BBC and BSkyB ... to Nokia, Samsung and other mobile devices.
David Meyer adds:
[The] Consortium [is] ... Microsoft, BT, the BBC ... Nokia ... BSkyB, Neul, Samsung, Cambridge Consultants, Spectrum Bridge and TTP. ... BT is already taking the technology for a spin on the Scottish isle of Bute.
There is around 150MHz unused ... lying between the spectrum used for TV broadcasts ... left empty to avoid interference. ... By way of contrast, the typical mobile operator has just 30MHz to play with. ... It has much better range ... as much as 10km, compared with about 250m ... and is better at penetrating indoors.
Why is Microsoft interested? Lawrence Latif learns us:
Microsoft Research ... Networking Over White Spaces (KNOWS) ... has published extensively ... since 2003. ... It's not surprising that Microsoft and others are trying to get Ofcom interested in letting wireless networking companies use radio spectrum white spaces.
Microsoft's Dan Reed is simply fed up of how we allocate spectrum:
To realize this vision of ... dynamic broadband, we need to fundamentally rethink how we allocate spectrum. ... With the Cambridge trial, the consortium hopes to explore ... more flexible regulation. ... We've worked hard to address spectrum sharing ... to allow cognitive radios to connect seamlessly without interference.
Radio is also egalitarian ... the cost to link a user 30 meters away is the same as the cost of serving a user several kilometers away. ... The more rural the user, the less intensively radio spectrum is utilized.
But Bill Ray guns for the possible downsides:
Radios designed to find and use empty frequencies simply don't work, so ... [the consortium] will use online databases of empty channels based on the location of the user. That means every white space access point will have to have GPS or similar. ... The approach is fraught with technical difficulties.
Radio propagation can change enormously depending on atmospherics. There's also the matter of transmissions bleeding ... which can be mitigated with good filters and clever radios, but not eliminated. ... Avoiding interference with other white space users will be more difficult. ... And that's what the Cambridge trials are all about.
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Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and security. His writing has previously won American Society of Business Publication Editors and Jesse H. Neal awards. A cross-functional IT geek since 1985, you can also read Richi's full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.