Mobile Sands

February 25, 2009

White Space Spectrum Gone Missing? Just 1 Vacant Channel in LA, NY and SF

Filed under: white space — Tags: — AJ @ 3:51 pm

Opening TV White Spaces is supposed to bring us “WiFi on Steroids” . Really?

In one my previous posts, I had argued that the amount of white space spectrum available (as currently defined in FCC’s NPRM) is just not sufficient for wireless ISPs to launch services in urban areas.  But I was still optimistic about the use of white space spectrum for consumer electronics applications. So, when Spectrum Bridge launched a web-based tool to show the white space spectrum available at any location, I decided to use it to find the number of “white space'” channels available in downtowns of 6 major metro areas.

Here are the results:

  • Boston (@62 Boylston St): 5 channels
  • Chicago (@ N Michigan Ave): 9 channels
  • Dallas (@901 Main Street): 2 channels
  • Los Angeles (@138 S Central Ave): 1 channel
  • New York (@ 1460 Broadway Ave):  1 channel
  • San Francisco (@1298 Howard St): 1 channel

If Spectrum Bridge’s database is correct, it means that just one channel is available in downtown LA, NY and SF – three of the largest metro areas in the US.  This severly limits the use of white space spectrum for consumer electronics applications like home networking or in-home video distribution. Even a few towns/cities like LA, NY and SF are sufficient to increase return rate on a consumer electronics device by a few percentage points, which is terrible for the profitability of the product line.  Remember that white space devices also need geo-location capability as well, and they need to compete with mature 802.11 b/g/n devices. Overall, not great for the backers of CogNea standard (see recent press release from GeorgiaTech about goals of this alliance) or startups that want to enter this space.

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