Sep 24 2010

5 Most Promising Applications for TV White Spaces

Recently, FCC officially opened for TV white space spectrum, now without the strict requirement of sensing in the terminals. Interestingly, Ofcom in the UK also seem to take a similar approach. There is much discussion about which applications that will be used in the TV White Spaces (TVWS) and trials have been launched among others by Google. Obviously we have rural broadband and super-WiFi, but there are many others. In fact, most generally used applications for wireless communications could potentially be used in TVWS, but the big pros with the TVWS are the great propagation characteristics which provide for great coverage and also the relatively great bandwidths.  However, some applications are more attractive than others when considering commercial and technical aspects. Therefore I provide a ranked list of 5 promising applications in the TV White Spaces:

  1. Wide area coverage in rural areas (e.g. IEEE 802.22): This has great potential since there especially exist much white spaces in the rural areas. Also, TVWS has perfect characteristics for this applications where propagation effects give high ranges and there are relatively wide bandwiths of 6, 7 or 8 MHz in US, Asia and Europe respectively. Broadband to rural areas might therefore be provided very cheap.
  2. Hotspot/low-power broadband (e.g. IEEE 802.11af): Since the much used 2.4 GHz band for WiFi is quite congested in urban areas, IEEE 802.11af also called super-WiFi will probably be used in the unlicensed TVWS. In some urban areas there does not exist much white spaces for high power systems such as (1) above, but there could be potential for low power broadband systems such as for WiFi hotspots that exploit smaller portions of TV white space.  Femto-, pico and micro-cells for wireless broadband in TVWS are other examples, but these are not naturally unlicensed such as WiFi.
  3. Backhaul for WiFi in hotels, campuses, businesses (WiFi could be IEEE 802.11af or IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n): When WiFi is installed in hotels, campuses or business the greatest challenge is often the cabling to provide internet connectivity to the WiFi access points. By using TVWS as backhaul for WiFi access points in such installations we could avoid the costly, time consuming and challenging cabling issues. This is due to the propagation effects in the TVWS where radio signals better penetrates building walls and floors.
  4. Connectivity for security cameras (example):With TVWS it will be easier to install security cameras anywhere with lack of connectivity.
  5. Remote monitoring (power plants, patients, metering, …): Due to the propagation effects of TVWS it will be easy to provide access to power plants far away, and to patients far away and moving around potentially in the basement where signal loss is severe, but connectivity achievable with TVWS.

Other domains of interest for TVWS applications that could be mentioned are ad-hoc networks  (e.g. internal sensor network or mesh network communication), healthcare applications, vehicular communications and cellular networks offloading.