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White space radio gains interest

Posted: 07 Jul 2011     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:white space  Wi-Fi  M2M 

White space radio is gaining a lot of interest with companies like Microsoft, Google, BBC, British Sky Broadcasting and BT conducting trials in Cambridge, UK (Cambridge Consortium) for Wi-Fi in White Space radio (under the banner of 802.11af).

The UK trials are hoped to persuade other European countries to allow white space spectrum to be used in mobile devices. There are also talks being held with Japanese and Singapore regulators.

Separately, Neul (a white space radio start-up) also announced a fund-raising of Rs.57.14 crore ($12.8 million) from DFJ Esprit to develop its own white space solution. Neul is said to be using its own proprietary technology and is not joining the Wi-Fi Alliance.

Players supporting Wi-Fi in White Spaces are looking at providing networks in areas where existing ones are overcrowded, or in rural areas where there is currently no broadband access. Neul, on the other hand is targeting applications like smart meters and M2M (machine-to-machine) applications, such as electronic shelf labelling, asset tracking, remote RF diagnostics and base station management.

Filomena Berardi, senior research analyst and lead analyst for WLAN, Wi-Fi and 802.11 comments, "Whilst the two are currently targeting different applications, there will inevitably be some overlap, and comparisons between the two technologies will be made. As we've seen in the past, industry backing will be critical in the successful development of the technologies. A parallel that springs to mind is the saga of LTE and WiMAX. Although WiMAX was earlier to market, LTE was the technology that was backed by most of the cellular industry, in particular the MNOs. For many the fact that it was a continuation of the 3GPP set of standards was a key factor. One could make analogies here to 802.11af being a continuation of the earlier IEEE standards."

Berardi added, "Regardless of standard, trials will be vital, with concerns voiced that interference will be caused when operating in this spectrum. What's more, even if trials are successful the full roll out of white space radio is some time away, think how long 3G and Wi-Fi coverage has taken and we still don't have 100 per cent coverage! So watch this (white) space!"

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