Making use of unused TV broadcast spectrum, so-called ‘TV white spaces,’ to deliver wireless broadband services took another step toward commercialization this past week as the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) announced the completion of its 802.22 “Standard for Wireless Regional Area Networks in TV White Spaces.” Known also as ‘Super Wi-Fi,’ 802.22 has a 100-kilometer (62-mile) range, with base station coverage areas spanning 31,080 sq. km. (12,000 square miles).
The 802.22 standard is expected to spur broadband adoption, particularly in poorly covered rural areas, as well as provide last-mile broadband connectivity and help alleviate network congestion.
In development since 2004, 802.22 networks operate in VHF/UHF TV frequency ranges between 54 MHz and 698 MHz with a maximum data transmission rate as high as 22 Mbps per channel.
The ‘Super Wi-Fi’ standard’s “superb propagation characteristics” make it the best option for wireless distribution of multimedia content across local areas, according to advocates, enabling Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISPs), rural telecoms companies, community WiFi networks and others to distribute multimedia content wirelessly without interfering with broadcast TV channels.
A substantial amount of unused TV band spectrum exists in cities and communities across the US, they say. “Allocating the TV white spaces for unlicensed use will stimulate the development of innovative devices, enable more economical broadband deployment in rural and other underserved areas, and ensure the efficient utilization of unused ‘beach front’ spectrum below 1 GHz,” high tech industry supporters stated in a 2007 letter to the FCC.
In January, the FCC appointed nine TV bands database administrators to set up and manage the databases that will monitor, allocate and administer use of 802.22 frequencies so as to ensure they do not interfere with VHF and UHF TV channels and communications. These were Comsearch, Frequency Finder, Google, KB Enterprises and LS Telecom, Key Bridge Global, Neustar, Spectrum Bridge, Telecordia Technologies and WSdb. The FCC added Microsoft to the list last week.