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

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