TV white-space spectrum (TVWS) is touted as the answer to the question of how to deliver broadband service to remote and rural areas, but not much progress has been seen so far in the U.S. hinterlands. One of the latest companies taking a stab at using TVWS to deliver Internet access to the underserved is ASA Networks, a New York City-based startup that is testing TVWS technology in the upstate New York town of Gallatin.
"We have it working and it works for non-line of sight," Joe Plotkin, director of marketing for ASA Networks, recently told Telecompetitor. He said ASA expects to launch commercial service this year and added that the company's investors "would like us to be aggressive and expand."
ASA began deploying network equipment last year around Gallatin, which is located in Columbia County. The first antenna was placed on Gallatin Town Hall.
In a Feb. 7 email to Gallatin residents, which was quoted by the local Register-Star, Plotkin said, "ASA Networks' Super-Fi service will bring fast and reliable Internet access to outlying areas, where alternatives have been limited or non-existent."
The company promised two months of free Internet service plus free installation for people within the testing area during the trial period. "This is brand new technology, and we need to learn how it performs under real-world conditions," Plotkin said in the email. "We will seek your feedback as we work out technical kinks."
Telecompetitor reported that Plotkin declined to provide details regarding data rates or coverage distances being achieved in the trial.
However, in an interview in the spring 2013 issue of the New York Senate's Rural Futures newsletter, an unidentified ASA representative was quoted as saying, "We have found white space to be on par with DSL or better." The rep added that ASA had "test users right now who can stream Hulu without buffering."
ASA has not officially announced how much it will charge for commercial service. But the ASA representative told the senate's newsletter that ASA was "working to provide the service to home users for $50 or less."
ASA is using TVWS equipment supplied by Carlson Wireless Technologies, Telecompetitor said.
In 2008, the FCC approved the unlicensed use of TVWS spectrum--which is unused TV broadcast channels--for wireless applications and devices. Use of the spectrum comes with stringent rules, however. All unlicensed TV-band devices (TVBDs) operating in broadcast TV bands must contact an authorized database system to obtain a list of channels currently available for their operation at their specific location, so they know which frequencies they can use without causing interference.
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