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The First White Spaces Devices are Up

White spaces, internet connectivity services that run in the unused portion of the television spectrum, have been called “WiFi on steroids” by Google founder, Larry Page. For years, IT companies like Dell, Google and Microsoft have campaigned in favor of opening up the spectrum for data service, specifically broadband internet access. But of course, the broadcasting industry has just as long been vehemently opposing the idea, spending huge quantities of money on FUD advertising campaigns meant to convice consumers that white spaces would harm their television quality.

Back in November, 2008, the FCC made a surprising call when it allowed internet service carriers and other vendors to deploy devices in the unlicensed white spaces spectrum at up to 100 milliwats, but only up to 40 milliwats on white space spectrum which lies adjacent to TV channels. More dependable than WiFi, white spaces can support bigger bandwidths for faster downloads over longer distances. They are also less prone to interference from walls or other obstacles.

And finally, the first public white space network has officially launched. On Wednesday in Claudville, Virginia, this specific white space is using sensing technology from Spectrum Bridge, software and Web cams supplied by Microsoft and by Dell sponsored PCs. The project was funded the TDF Foundation.

One condition the FCC placed on would-be white spaces providers at the time in November 2008 was that the devices would need sensing capabilities that could automatically shut them down should they ever interfere with television. Spectrum Bridge has provided a database that ensures that the white spaces devices in Claudville do not cause interference with local TV signals. The company explained that “… the database assigns non-interfering frequencies to white spaces devices and can adapt in real time to new TV broadcasts, as well as to other protected TV band users operating in the area.” Courtesy of networkworld.com

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