IEEE sets standard for 'white spaces'

The 802.22 standard calls for up to 22M bps service over 100 kilometers

A just-published standard for using the "white spaces" between TV channels could offer as much as 22M bps (bits per second) over distances as great as 100 kilometers (62 miles).

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers announced on Wednesday that it has published the IEEE 802.22 standard, which defines the unlicensed use of frequencies between TV channels in the VHF and UHF bands. The IEEE 802.22 Working Group began its standards effort after the U.S. Federal Communications Commission started exploring the use of these frequencies by unlicensed devices. But the group said its standard could be used around the world, especially in rural areas and developing countries where there tend to be more vacant TV channels.

Microsoft, Google and other big technology players strongly pushed for use of the white spaces in the U.S., going up against strong opposition by TV broadcasters who said unlicensed devices in those bands would interfere with their signals. IEEE 802.22 will not interfere with TV broadcasts, because it incorporates several features to prevent interference, including the use of databases of incumbent spectrum users, the IEEE said in a press release.

By using long-reach frequencies like those that transmit TV across metropolitan areas through walls, IEEE 802.22 could allow service providers to deliver mobile data services with fewer transmitters than ordinary cellular systems. This makes the standard promising for areas that are unserved or underserved, the IEEE said. As with Wi-Fi, use of white spaces won't require anyone to pay a licensing fee.

The FCC approved the use of unlicensed gear in the white spaces in 2008, and last September it eased the regulations on these uses by removing the need for "spectrum sensing" technology. Devices will still need to have access to databases of what frequencies are being used nearby and be equipped with cognitive radio technology so they can change frequencies when necessary. The IEEE standard incorporates those features.

Consumers have just begun to receive Internet access over white-spaces spectrum, but over the next few years, the technology may be used widely for government applications, consumer services and backhaul from Wi-Fi networks, said Farpoint Group analyst Craig Mathias. TV uses channels in the same general band all over the world, and many countries have adopted white-spaces rules, so there may eventually be a global market for devices that use the technology, he said. High-volume production tends to bring low prices for equipment.

However, white spaces will never be used as widely as Wi-Fi or cellular, Mathias said. He expects its use to be focused on rural and underserved areas.

Even with its long range, the technology might be hard for service providers to use, said Gartner analyst Ken Dulaney.

"If this applies to rural areas, which I think is a target, you have problems with low density and thus have to price it high or lose money," he said.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags Institute of Electrical and Electronics EngineersregulationNetworkingwirelessU.S. Federal Communications Commissionmobilegovernment

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Stephen Lawson

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?