White Noise about White Space Spectrum

White Noise about White Space Spectrum

Summary: Yes, it is great that the FCC has given the green light to using "white spaces' spectrum for Wi-Fi style networking, but it's neither "Wi-Fi on Steroids" nor "Super Wi-Fi."


Don't get me wrong. I think it's great that the FCC has approved the use of "white spaces" for wireless networking. But, come on people, it's neither "Wi-Fi on Steroids" nor is it "Super Wi-Fi." Not yet anyway.

Maybe someday it will be, but right now the only thing that's "Super" about it is its range of 30 to 100 kilometers. The speed though-and isn't that what we always end up caring about when it comes to networking-is a rather pedestrian 1.5Mbps (Megabits per second) and 384 Kbps (Kilobits per second).

That presumes, of course, that the ISP behind such a wireless network has the infrastructure in place to support that kind of speed for say a hundred-thousand customers. They might not. One of the big reasons why WiMAX has been so slow to deploy in the U.S. and LTE (Long Term Evolution) is barely out of the starting blocks, is that the ultra-high-speed Internet backbones needed to support them are still being built.

It can be done. In Wilmington, NC, Spectrum Bridge is already delivering white spectrum networking from fiber optic networks to Wi-Fi APs and town users under an experimental license.

Still, white space networking is currently based on IEEE 802.22 Wireless Regional Area Network. It will need to be replaced by a much faster standard before I'll get excited about it.

On the plus side, 802.22 isn't tied to phone companies the way that WiMAX and LTE are. White space networking also has a lot of industry powerhouses behind it, including, far from least, Google. It could end up being the kind of real high-speed bandwidth, say 10Mbps up and down over square miles instead of square yards, that so many of crave. Even in the best case though that won't be for years.

As it is, I think that 802.22 has real possibilities for rural neighborhoods where pigeons are sometimes faster than the local Internet connections. But, "Super?" I don't see "Super." Not yet anyway.

Topics: Mobility, Networking, Wi-Fi

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  • RE: White Noise about White Space Spectrum

    SJVN,<br><br>I think rural is the best place for this technology. The prohibitive cost to rural ISPs for that `last mile`to the customer, is one of the things holding rural broadband back.<br><br>Since `White Spaces` uses vacant TV channels for spectrum; and has characteristics similar to existing TV broadcasts; if an ISP can ink a deal with one or more broadcast tower owners, one of these problems can be solved. <br><br>As you pointed out, no matter what wireless technology is used, back haul will be a constraining factor. Getting the data to/from the tower site will have to be overcome.
    • RE: White Noise about White Space Spectrum

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  • Perspective

    Most of Indiana still pays $40/mo for 1.5Mbps. You're saying that they could pay half of that and not be tied to Comcast or AT&T? Simply calling it super would be under-billing it. Are you in Cali, too? I admit, I'm spoiled out here, and I love it. Sure, Comcast has repeatedly tried to charge me more than the price I was quoted, but they did that in Indiana, too. The difference is that in Indiana I consistently maxed out at 1/10 of the promised bandwidth while I actually hit the promised rate with regularity out here.
    • RE: White Noise about White Space Spectrum

      @tkejlboom No doubt about it, if you're in the woods--and coming from the backwoods of WV I know all about that--802.22 will be great. But, if you're already somewhere that gets even decent DSL, I don't see much 'super' about it.

      As for the costs, I fear you're not going to see any price reductions. Darn it.

      I'll be keeping an eye on deployments and its pricing, so I'll let you know what I find out as companies start rolling it out.
  • RE: White Noise about White Space Spectrum

    Hello sjvn,
    nice article, thanks.
    I agree with you: problems are on backbone (not super, but very very lower...), not with hot spots.
    I've some doubts on white space spectrum: what are differences with Wi-Max techology? Are complementar?

    Roberto Avanzi
    GRAL Informatica
  • RE: White Noise about White Space Spectrum

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