Skip to Content
Uncategorized

White Spaces Finally Open for Business

After years of trials, the FCC grants approval for super Wi-Fi hardware.
January 6, 2012

One of the touted benefits of shutting down analog TV broadcasts in favor of digital broadcasts (which occurred in the United States in 2009) was that large portions of radio spectrum would be freed up for other uses. In particular, these so called white spaces on the spectrum chart were intended to be used for broadband data connections, ushering in a new era of “super Wi-Fi” services, the first of which will finally come to market later this month.

Just before Christmas, the FCC announced that it had approved the Agility White Space Radio system from Koos Technical Services, which is targeted towards broadband service providers or industrial customers. Capable of handling IP-based traffic at data rates that range from 1.5 to 3.1 megabytes per second, the new radio is limited to fixed-point installations and has approval for operation only in Wilmington, North Carolina, but nationwide expansion is expected.

The reason for the limited area of operation, and relatively slow roll-out of white spaces devices in general, is because, unlike with Wi-Fi, where an operating band at 2.4 GHz was universally available to all devices, the exact frequencies available to white space devices varies depending on location. This is because the frequencies allocated to the original analog television broadcasts were varied regionally, in order to minimize interference between geographically neighboring TV stations. Consequently, white space devices must consult a database system that tells them what frequencies they can use in a given location. The first such database was also approved in tandem with the Koos radio, operated by Spectrum Bridge.

Spectrum Bridge was a key player in early trials of white spaces networks, and with the FCC approval can now begin charging for access to its database. Use of the database should allow many other communications equipment manufacturers to gain FCC approval, and finally bring about the long-promised explosion in white spaces services and products.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

Death and Jeff Bezos
Death and Jeff Bezos

Meet Altos Labs, Silicon Valley’s latest wild bet on living forever

Funders of a deep-pocketed new "rejuvenation" startup are said to include Jeff Bezos and Yuri Milner.

tonga eruption
tonga eruption

Tonga’s volcano blast cut it off from the world. Here’s what it will take to get it reconnected.

The world is anxiously awaiting news from the island—but on top of the physical destruction, the eruption has disconnected it from the internet.

mouse engineered to grow human hair
mouse engineered to grow human hair

Going bald? Lab-grown hair cells could be on the way

These biotech companies are reprogramming cells to treat baldness, but it’s still early days.

conceptual illustration showing various women's faces being scanned
conceptual illustration showing various women's faces being scanned

A horrifying new AI app swaps women into porn videos with a click

Deepfake researchers have long feared the day this would arrive.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.