Microsoft: Building blocks falling into place for global TV White Space deployments

TV White Space can cast wireless signals without line of sight
The TV white space spectrum can connect users without needing line of sight. Image credit: Carson Wireless

Microsoft recently provided the FCC with an update on the status of TV White Space (TVWS) connectivity ecosystem and project deployments, saying the building blocks are falling into place for a globally scalable marketplace for devices dynamically accessing unused TV white space spectrum.

The TVWS is spectrum located in the VHF and UHF bands that is available for use where spectrum is not being used by licensed services like TV broadcasting. While current TV white space technologies are based on proprietary technologies, the first generation of standards-based devices are still in development.

Microsoft noted that MediaTek recently demonstrated in Glasgow, Scotland, its first tri-band 5 GHz, 2.4 GHz and TVWS prototype based on the 802.11af Wi-Fi standard, and several companies have announced plans to manufacture devices incorporating MediaTek’s first-generation 802.11af chipset.

For its part, Microsoft has partnered with network operators to deploy TV white space networks in 20 countries. In the U.S., it’s partnering with Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communications Corporation (MBC) in Virginia to use TVWS technology to extend broadband access to unconnected primary and secondary students in rural, high poverty school districts.

In fact, MBC already has deployed broadband to K-12 public schools serving more than 70,000 students in southern Virginia. MBC’s plan is to leverage the fiber optic connectivity already provided to schools and install TV white space base stations at the schools to extend the reach of broadband access into surrounding communities. That way, students will be able to connect from their homes in order to complete homework assignments.

As part of the project, Silicon Valley startup Adaptrum is providing TVWS technology for last-mile connectivity.

Microsoft noted that deployments of TVWS technology are now in such diverse locations as the United States, Namibia, the United Kingdom, South Africa, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Ghana, the Philippines, Kenya, Tanzania and Malawi. And to support case for TVWS, Microsoft noted that not a single report of harmful interference to incumbent users, including broadcasters, has been reported across all these projects – which should go a long way toward getting TVWS more widely deployed.

For more:
- see this FCC filing (PDF)

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