The global switch from analog to digital television has created an unusual opportunity, opening up portions of the radio spectrum around the world that have been off limits to anyone but broadcasters for decades. These newly vacant “white spaces” can be found from 52 to 806 megahertz, and telecommunications companies hope to be able to use some of them for long-range broadband wireless connections. In the United States, the Federal Communications Commission announced rules for unlicensed use of white spaces in September, but a number of pilot systems have already been deployed. The first such public network, introduced in rural Virginia by Spectrum Bridge in October of last year, used white-space frequencies to connect Wi-Fi hot spots to the Internet.
One significant difficulty in opening up white spaces to mainstream consumer use is that the exact frequencies available vary from place to place, largely depending on the bands used by local TV stations.
Consequently, researchers are focusing on making wireless equipment smart enough to figure out which frequencies it should be using. At Microsoft Research, Ranveer Chandra (see TR35, September/October 2010) has developed a prototype system in which base stations determine their location using GPS and then check the Web to find out which radio bands are allocated to local broadcasters.
Here’s how a Twitter engineer says it will break in the coming weeks
One insider says the company’s current staffing isn’t able to sustain the platform.
Technology that lets us “speak” to our dead relatives has arrived. Are we ready?
Digital clones of the people we love could forever change how we grieve.
How to befriend a crow
I watched a bunch of crows on TikTok and now I'm trying to connect with some local birds.
Starlink signals can be reverse-engineered to work like GPS—whether SpaceX likes it or not
Elon said no thanks to using his mega-constellation for navigation. Researchers went ahead anyway.
Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review
Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.