Microsoft, Google Already Testing TV White-Space for Broadband Use

The FCC has only barely set pen to paper on licenses for using TV white-space and already the corporate information sharks are moving in. While the formal white-space license rules are still being finalized, experimental licenses have already been released to various innovators who want a jump start on the new resource. Microsoft and Google both have started their engines, according to an article on ReadWriteWeb:

Larry Alder, a business operations project manager for Google, writes that he is in Logan, Ohio to announce “an exciting new deployment” that he says will demonstrate “the potential of the TV white spaces to improve broadband”.

These “white spaces” are the unused part of the broadcasting spectrum that were made available by the changeover to a digital signal. Microsoft has done the same on its 500-acre Redmond, Washington campus, a feat that it says would have taken thousands of wi-fi routers and other equipment to replicate. The white spaces project instead used two transmitters to cover the entire campus.

Google’s exciting deployment in Logan, Ohio is at a hospital. The deployment of TV white-space RF use will enable the hospital with high-speed broadband that will enable to them to better communicate intra-department, with rescue vehicles, and manage their outdoor video surveillance system. Since it uses TV signals instead of other bands, they do not need to worry about the signals interference with their own radio equipment or other wireless networks.

The TV white-space has opened up with the move from analog television signals to digital. Before, the white-space existed between TV channels to prevent them interfering with each other—an effect that often produced the “ghostly” appearance of another channel interlaced with another—this was because analog television signals had a certain among of bleed into nearby frequencies. Digital television suffers much less from this with better error correction and factors that improve clarity while preventing disruption from interference. The advent paved the way for these spaces to be employed for more applications.

The FCC votes on the final technical rules governing TV white-space on Thursday, September 23. Once that ink has dried, we can probably expect a lot more ventures like Microsoft’s and Google’s trying their hand at using this untapped resource.

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