Podcast Audio | Posted by Phil Leigh on February 11, 2011
Two weeks ago the FCC took the final administrative step enabling TV Band White Spaces to become a reality when they selected database administrators. Online databases will be automatically queried by White Spaces devices to find vacant TV channels that can be used for mobile and other wireless communications. TV Band White Space technology means future smartphones – and other wireless devices — will be able to use TV frequencies as routinely as they do WiFi.
The FCC authorization is important for four reasons.
First, it provides additional spectrum to alleviate increasing cellular congestion that’s been inhibiting the wireless Internet. Both AT&T Mobility and Verizon Wireless are discouraging unlimited Internet use. Consequently, subscribers seeking to bypass cellular service with Wi-Fi hot-spots will henceforth also have TV bands as a future option. Second, TV bands supply excellent propagation in comparison to Wi-Fi. A single equivalent White Spaces transceiver covers 16-times the area of a Wi-Fi access point. Moreover, its signals better penetrate walls and enter buildings. That’s one reason the frequencies were originally set aside for TV sixty-odd years ago.
Third, White Space methodology uses TV bands without taking anything away from TV broadcasters. The FCC sets-aside about fifty television channels, but not a single city comes even close to using them all. White Spaces technology employs on-the-fly geolocation to determine which channels are available wherever applicable devices are located. Vacant channels are identified by checking an online database in realtime.
Fourth, legacy license holders cannot block any operator. Suppliers are not required to get a license if their device is compliant with FCC standards. Thus, White Space technology implies and explosion of innovation and growth, much like the advent of Wi-Fi.
Since Wi-Fi operators – such as those of us with home networks – don’t need an FCC license to operate our transceivers, Wi-Fi quickly permeated the market. Healthy competition drove prices lower and steadily improved performance. The chart below illustrates the rapid growth of Wi-Fi device authorizations in the years following IEEE adoption of the 802.11 standard in 1999. TV Band White Spaces holds promise to replicate the pattern.
Readers interested in learning more about future business opportunities for TV Band White Spaces are advised we are preparing a full research report. It will include a five-year quantitative market forecast and be available through The Diffusion Group.