Feature Article

August 19, 2013

Super Wi-Fi Summit Explores Key Issues for TV White Spaces

As the U.S. Federal Communications Commission prepares rules for repurposing some broadcast TV spectrum (TV white spaces) no longer used, one key issue is the method of licensing.

But there are lots of other issues, such as what network platforms and gear are available to support licensed or unlicensed applications based on use of TV white spaces spectrum. There is the matter of what devices will be produced to use TV white spaces networks.

All such networks will require use of database services that instruct all active devices on what frequencies can be used in any area.

Everyone expects new applications to be enabled, and so there are questions about the business models that will allow sustainable operation of services and apps based on use of TV white spaces spectrum. 

Image via Shutterstock

All the while, networks, apps and devices will have to avoid interfering with other users. Then there is the issue of spectrum management across national boundaries.

There are few examples of TV white spaces networks globally, since we remain in a development stage. But there are some important tests ongoing around the world.

And there are lots of ideas about how Super Wi-Fi might benefit service and application providers of many types.

All of those subjects will be addressed at the upcoming Super Wi-Fi Summit.

In the U.S. market, some believe the best way to commercialize the TV white spaces spectrum is to auction most of the frequencies. Others believe it is vital to preserve significant amounts of that white spaces spectrum for unlicensed use, using the prior example of Wi-Fi as an example of innovation that should arise.

As always, there are huge commercial implications. Major users of licensed spectrum will prefer a licensing method. Many others think the greatest amount of innovation will occur if an unlicensed model is used.

Given the huge commercial implications, many believe only portions of the spectrum actually will be available on an unlicensed basis.

There are valid arguments for both points of view (licensed versus unlicensed access). A licensed approach will help mobile service providers; an unlicensed approach will help all sorts of innovators and entrepreneurs, with mostly indirect economic benefit, as with Wi-Fi.

Some think the best outcome would be a mix of licensing, with significant amounts available on an unlicensed basis.

In every instance, though, the ecosystem now is being built, and will be fully on display at the Super Wi-Fi Summit.

Edited by Rich Steeves

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