Weightless 1.0 standard takes TV white space into M2M realm

The use of TV white-space (TVWS) spectrum for machine-to-machine communications received a significant boost with the ratification of the version 1.0 core specification of Weightless standard, which vendors can now use as a basis for producing interoperable products.

Two years of work resulted in passage of a set of specs encompassing 600-plus pages at the plenary conference of the Weightless Special Interest Group (SIG), which touted Weightless' "ground breaking cost savings" that are said to be comparable to personal-area networking technologies such as Bluetooth. The Cambridge, UK-based group previously said a common M2M standard for TVWS would drive down the cost of TVWS chipsets to less than $2.

The standard is also supposed to enable low-power consumption that "allows operation of battery-powered terminals utilizing single primary cells for periods of more than 10 years," according to the group.

The benefits of using TVWS for M2M--or any mobile broadband service actually--is that the low-frequency spectrum enables a large range of coverage, supposedly up to 10 kilometers, and excellent in-building penetration. Depending upon world region, the preferred spectrum generally falls somewhere in the 450-800 MHz range. In the United States, TV bands consist of 6 MHz channels primarily in the 470-698 MHz UHF band.

Weightless is a global, open, FRAND-Z standard, meaning fair, reasonable, non-discriminatory and zero cost. The SIG has said the first end products using Weightless technology are expected to roll out his year.

In March, the Weightless SIG said its roster had surpassed 600 members. Promoter group members of the Weightless standard include: ARM, Cable & Wireless, CSR and Neul. Neul announced in February that it had initiated testing of its first Weightless chipset called Iceni.

The Weightless standard is meant as a complement to the IEEE 802.22 standard for TVWS-based wireless regional area networks (WRANs), which are designed to deliver 22-29 Mbps over a radius of 10-30 kilometers. While 802.22 is designed to support high-bandwidth, high-power terminals and a relatively small number of users per base station, Weightless is aimed squarely at M2M services that require low bandwidth and low-power terminals and can serve many thousands of devices per base station.

The WhiteSpace Alliance has adopted IEEE 802.22-2011 into its Wi-FAR specification.

For more:
- see this Weightless release

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