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White Spaces

California Beaming: White Spaces in Gold County

California is getting one of the first networks in the U.S. that uses white-spaces technology to bring Internet services to hard-to-wire areas.

Local service provider Cal.Net is using equipment from Carlson Wireless Technologies, Inc. to provide what it calls the nation's first independently-funded commercial-grade TV White Space (TVWS) broadband network in the area.

White-spaces networking is a side effect of the digitization of TV signals [Ed note: You knew there had to be more benefits than just getting to see the previously un-shown episodes of Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23, right?)

As TV signals have become increasingly compressed, so the guard bands that had been used to prevent the analog signals interfering with each other have become available for independent use. These are the white-spaces bands that can be used to provide high-speed wireless broadband services. (See Mommy, What's a White Space?)

The technology is expected to deliver downstream speeds of between 22 Mbit/s and 29 Mbit/s over a 10 km to 30 km radius. In the U.S., it operates in the upper 700MHz bands.

"Over 59,000 residents in our rural service area have had little or no quality Internet access," says Cal.net CTO Ken Garnett in a blog about the service plans. The former Gold Rush towns of the county are situated in some pretty but rugged terrain that would be difficult and expensive to serve with wireline broadband connections.

So Carlson and Cal.net formed an alliance and got a "Special Temporary Authority" from the FCC to start what they call "the world’s first large-scale deployment of commercial TVWS products." The project will have multiple transmission sites delivering broadband to several hundred subscribers in El Dorado County.

Carlson started shipping the equipment last month.

The pair aren't the only ones interested in this technology: Google currently has a trial underway in schools around Cape Town, South Africa.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

joanengebretson 4/23/2013 | 7:02:41 PM
re: California Beaming: White Spaces in Gold County You could think of white spaces as bigger guard bands -- they're often described that way. But in this deployment I think it's more accurate to say they're using vacant TV channels -- channels that no broadcaster is using in the market. So if it would be OK to use the spectrum for TV broadcast, it should be OK to use it for broadband wireless without interference concerns. This technology has undergone a lot of real-world testing over quite a few years. So I don't see it as being equivalent to Light Squared. Seems like a promising technology for rural areas.
Sarah Thomas 4/23/2013 | 3:34:20 PM
re: California Beaming: White Spaces in Gold County There are so many shows that I'd love get lost in the white spaces...you named two of them already. Good point on rural areas too.
mendyk 4/23/2013 | 3:20:37 PM
re: California Beaming: White Spaces in Gold County Heavy Reading did an analysis of this a few months back. Highlights here: http://www.heavyreading.com/4g...
DanJones 4/23/2013 | 3:18:11 PM
re: California Beaming: White Spaces in Gold County -áI guess they could potentially interfere with TV signals. If its Anger Management getting jammed I don't have a problem with that.

I think the FCC is looking at this a rural thing though so they probably won't be in the markets where that would be a big concern.

I could be wrong though, this is very, very early days for this technology.
Sarah Thomas 4/23/2013 | 3:07:49 PM
re: California Beaming: White Spaces in Gold County That's what I figured. White spaces bring to mind LightSquared's troubles with the FCC for some reason...I could imagine similar issues/concerns.
DanJones 4/23/2013 | 2:58:08 PM
re: California Beaming: White Spaces in Gold County In this sort of deployment I doubt it but I imagine this is one of the things the FCC is trying to discern by granting them authority to do this.
Sarah Thomas 4/23/2013 | 2:53:17 PM
re: California Beaming: White Spaces in Gold County Making use of white spaces seems like a good, obvious opportunity, but is interference a big concern?
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