Podcast Audio | Posted by Phil Leigh on June 9, 2011
This past weekend I decided to rent a movie from Amazon-Video-on-Demand. The service is available via my TiVo, which makes it easy to watch the movies on my TV-set instead of a computer. I’ve done it about a dozen times before. Except when it was a new service, the experience has been generally satisfactory.
But, not this last time.
Unfortunately my TiVo simply gave me an error message. So, like most of us, I shrugged my shoulders and repeated the selection process. TiVo threw-up on me a second time.
Frowning, I proceeded to TiVo’s troubleshooting instructions which suggested I check “Network and Settings”. After a few button-clicks, I learned that TiVo was receiving a “marginal” (35%) Wi-Fi signal from the router in my home office in the adjacent room. My current TiVo uses Wi-Fi to access the Internet to keep its program guide up-to-date and fetch movies from Amazon-Video-on-Demand. Older models typically used dial-up telephone lines which makes the Amazon service problematic.
The “marginal” signal strength message made me realize the door to my home office was shut thereby attenuating the Wi-Fi signal. Promptly and hopefully I opened the door and watched as TiVo’s signal strength meter improved to 50%. But that was still not enough. I had to reposition TiVo’s antenna and walk into the home office to put the Wi-Fi router on a higher shelf as well. Eventually, I got everything “tweaked” and the movie rental proceeded without further mishaps.
The experience led me to reflect upon the fact that TV Band White Spaces will “fix” this problem. Future home wireless networks will use a combination of technologies. Eventually our wireless LANs won’t be just Wi-Fi. Instead they will use transceiver chips that operate in both the conventional Wi-Fi and TV Bands. The receiving device – in my example the TiVo – will choose whichever band provides the best signal. Importantly, TV Bands propagate further thereby enabling them to reach the more remote rooms of the house. Additionally, they better penetrate walls and enter windows and doorways than do the conventional Wi-Fi frequencies.
Thus, once wireless routers and appliances like the TiVo get equipped with transceivers in both bands, our home wireless LANs will perform much better. This is an important because it implies a mass market for TV White Space transceivers, whereas much of the media coverage presently seems to concentrate on their applicability to Wireless ISPs in rural markets. In truth, the potential for TV Band White Spaces is much bigger than merely rural broadband access.