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Spectrum Bridge Trials Show Promise Of 'White Spaces'

Four deployments, in Calif., N.C., Ohio, and Va., point to the versatility and power of the broadband technology approved by the FCC Thursday.

In N.C., Spectrum Bridge found that the propagation power of white space frequencies enabled a system to be built with fewer towers. The application monitors wetlands around Wilmington at a much lower cost than using fiber. "We've identified different ways to show how white spaces can be used in smart city applications," said Schmidt.

In the Hocking Valley, Ohio, Community Hospital installations, Spectrum Bridge utilized Airspan Networks' WiMax technology and Google software to deliver advanced telemedicine to users. The installation demonstrated the easy use of data transfer between first responder vehicles and the hospital, while, in the hospital the technology was able to easily penetrate walls that couldn't be breached using older wireless technologies. The application was also utilized for video surveillance purposes.

Spectrum Bridge's partnership with the Plumas-Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative in Calif. represented the creation of a small smart grid. The trial also demonstrated that broadband can be provided inexpensively to rural inhabitants in scattered locations.

One interesting takeaway from the Spectrum Bridge trials is evidence that WiMax can be useful when linked with white spaces. Schmidt said WiMax gear can be rebranded to work with the newer technology and products should be ready for marketing as early as the first half of 2011.

The missing white space link is the database that monitors spectrum to guide users toward free bands. "It's like an air traffic control system," said Schmidt. "You need a database to keep broadband users from interfering with each other. When a (user) device is turned on, you need a channel map."

Once the final green light is given by the FCC, Schmidt expects to see a rush by vendors to create white space products and services. He predicts fixed high-power wireless installations will begin appearing early next year. "I look for consumer devices with radios embedded in laptops and PDAs to appear in 2012," he added.

At the FCC meeting Thursday, chairman Genachowski noted one analyst was predicting that white spaces apps could generate more than $7 billion in annual economic value.

For Further Reading

FCC Approves 'White Spaces'

FCC Hopes White Spaces Vote Appeases Critics

FCC Chairman Backs Use Of White Spaces

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