Run out of bandwidth? Borrow some from the TV
What would you do with free wireless spectrum?
From today you’ll be able to use a new technology in the UK called TV Whitespace. Ofcom, the telecoms regulator, announced that exemptions for TVWS devices come into effect today, 31st Dec 2015, some four years after initial trials.
What is TV Whitespace?
Dynamic spectrum authorises use of wireless spectrum in seconds rather than months or even years
The new regulations allow you to use TV spectrum when & where the main users (TV & microphones) don’t need it and use it as if it were an unlicensed band like WiFi does.
TV Whitespace is not a standard itself, but two combined concepts
- sharing of TV spectrum with its incumbents
- Using a database capable of dynamically allocating (any) spectrum to achieve this.
By enabling this Ofcom have introduced the biggest change to spectrum allocation to happen for decades — Dynamic Spectrum Access. If this concept is successful it could be used to manage the use of spectrum bands using technology rather than paperwork and legislation.
How can I use it?
Using TV Whitespace you can build a wide-area wireless network at low cost by borrowing unused TV channels
With the current generation of equipment it’s more practical to use as a backhaul link for WiFi hotspots than as a portable device or for wireless broadband. This is set to change in 2016 and you should expect to see new applications as the size and price reduces. In theory it’s as flexible as WiFi (leading to some calling it Super-WiFi), so can be used anywhere a device needs an internet connection.
When can I use it?
You can use it today if you have the right equipment. Vendors and standards are at varying levels of maturity. The IEEE 802 group has developed MAC and PHY standards and the IETF has standardised database interaction by creating PAWS. The vendors are naturally lagging a little behind this, but we’ll start to see vendors making smaller, integrated devices in 2016 and the prices will come down. Now’s the time to start exploring the opportunities.
How do I find out more?
Start learning about TV Whitespace with a Love Hz half-day workshop on the technology and applications. We’ll give you a primer on TV Whitespace based on practical experience of building a live network. By the end of the session you’ll be able to describe the technologies and vendors, understand the architecture of TVWS, the licensing restrictions and operational considerations.
You’ll be well on your way to building a network of your own.