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January 15, 2014

Carlson Wireless Technologies Receives FCC Certification for TV White Space Radio

The first time we wrote about Carlson Wireless in Mobility Techzone back in October 2012 - and by extension when you write about Carlson Wireless you are also writing specifically about its founder, Jim Carlson - the company was in the hunt to see TV White space legitimized and made available across the country for use. There has been a lot of politicized road blocking within this entire spectrum market segment, but things are perhaps finally falling into place.

Carlson Wireless Technologies is a California-based designer and manufacturer of radio equipment, and Jim Carlson has been pioneering wireless communications for rural and remote environments since 1999. Jim is certainly widely known for his visionary research and product development, as well as for the energetic and enthusiastic advocacy he brings to the idea of delivering rural wireless broadband.

Jim was among the earliest supporters of freeing up unused TV spectrum for public use, and further towards this goal Carlson has developed the first commercially affordable high-speed white space broadband solution. It is therefore doubly good to hear today that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has certified Carlson’s RuralConnect TV white space (TVWS) radio system for use with the Spectrum Bridge TV white spaces database.

Rod Dir, CEO of Spectrum Bridge, concurs: “Many parts of the country and world lack high-speed broadband access due to the limitations of traditional wireless network technology. Jim Carlson has been one of the staunchest advocates for rural broadband deployment, and we are proud to partner with the company as it paves the way in delivering solutions to this significantly underserved market.”

The "white spaces" referred to in TVWS in turn refer specifically to the UHF TV band (470-698 MHz), the unused spectrum frequencies between licensed television broadcasters opened by the FCC in 2010 for unlicensed public use. It has taken literally years to deliver real services, but at last we are there.

With the certification finally in hand Carlson now brings to market the first affordable long-distance, non-line-of-site (NLOS) fixed wireless broadband system.  It is a huge accomplishment on many fronts, and we certainly offer our own congrats to both the company and Jim himself on finally reaching this stage.

The availability of TV White Space spectrum means, at its simplest, that the same propagation characteristics that once carried UHF television broadcasts around trees, buildings and hills and into America’s living rooms can now be utilized to provide high-speed Internet to remote areas. By making wireless connectivity possible in places previously difficult or prohibitively expensive to reach, RuralConnect delivers on a truly new era of opportunity for rural communities demanding high-speed internet.

Further, it expands the capability of businesses and governments that need to extend their communications and private networks, such as data monitoring and control for utilities, oil & gas operations, resource management, public safety, video surveillance, VoIP networks and more.

Carlson's Technology

RuralConnect is designed using flexible software-defined architecture and dynamic spectrum sharing. RuralConnect is rapidly deployable and transmits at distances exceeding cellular and Wi-Fi, the line-of-sight technologies used to deliver broadband to hundreds of millions of urban and suburban customers worldwide. Remember that RuralConnect is not a line of site technology - a key to its use.

RuralConnect utilizes cognitive radio technology in collaboration with spectrum sharing databases to provide high-speed connectivity worldwide. The FCC approval authorizes use with the Spectrum Bridge database in the United States.

RuralConnect has operated for the last three years in more than 58 trial deployments both domestically and internationally, including a very successful trial with Google and others in 2013 with schools in Cape Town, South Africa. Those trials played a pivotal role in demonstrating to both regulators and potential users the ability of TVWS technology to provide high-speed data across rugged terrain.

Ken Garnett, CTO of Cal.net, a California wireless ISP which conducted one of the USA’s largest commercially feasible TVWS experimental trials in 2013, says that, “Carlson’s RuralConnect is our radio of choice for challenging rural deployments. By successfully penetrating dense forests and skirting terrain obstructions where no other wireless technology is adequate, RuralConnect allows us to dramatically increase the success rate of our installations.”

Jim Carlson himself notes that, "FCC certification enables us to offer our technology domestically. And because of the FCC’s stature worldwide, it also gives a boost to global efforts to adopt TVWS technology. Providing connectivity to underserved populations worldwide is more than an interest to us. It’s our corporate mission."

Amen to that!

Edited by Cassandra Tucker

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