LONDON – Neul Ltd. (Cambridge, England), a company pioneering the use of spectrum allocated to television but not used locally, is joining a trial in South Africa being led by internet company Google to provide broadband access to ten schools in the Cape Town area. Neul and Google are being joined by Carlson Wireless Technologies Inc. (Arcata, Calif.), a developer of rugged wireless broadband systems.
Although Neul's primary interest in white-space radio to date has been to create networks for machine-to-machine (M2M) communications and the Internet of Things (IoT) the collaboration with Carlson offers the potential to improve Internet connectivity in the developing world.
The marriage of the RuralConnect system from Carlson Wireless and the Neul Horizon protocol the companies can offer point to multi-point sharing of Ethernet bandwidth data, the companies said.
Neul launched the first production TVWS radio equipment, NeulNet, in June 2011. It has worked with Carlson Wireless in numerous white-space trials around the world.
"TV white space offers an affordable alternative to both wired and cellular connections for under-reached communities," said Neil MacMullen, co-founder and vice president of software for Neul.
Luke Mckend, Google South Africa Country Manager, commented, "We are pleased to be part of this exciting new development - the first of its kind in South Africa - and look forward to opening discussions with policy makers around a regulatory framework that will support the wider use of TVWS to deliver wireless broadband Internet across the country."
I came across a comment from last year in response to a story on this site about Neul's involvement in the Cambridge white space trial which you critiqued. I have to say that this also contained some fundamental factual errors. Do you have an undisclosed agenda?
I'm happy to debate any of these points. Let's hear your objective arguments.
I don't agree with your comments about interference. The FCC has set extremely stringent limits on adjacent channel emission and transmit power level and coupled with effective geolocation databases we are able to eliminate interference both to and from TV broadcast transmissions. The empirical testing and verification of this was one of the key objectives of the many trials that have taken place around the world.
Ultra-low out-of-band emissions and reduced impact on TV receivers through waveform shaping mean that we really can deliver to the FCC regulations.
The amount of white space that a technology can access is contingent upon the level of interference it causes to TV receivers. Well designed systems have minimal emissions outside of their selected channels and therefore cause little interference. This enables them to access more spectrum than would otherwise be the case. Weightless specifically selected a modulation and encoding technique that would result in best-in-class emissions, enabling the greatest possible availability of white space.
The needs of M2M are very different to those for human communications and it's possible that your points about channel width for broadband wireless standards are correct. But for M2M there is no comparison - white space spectrum is superior in every way (notably bandwidth, cost and signal propagation characteristics) to telephony based technologies operating in the GHz bands.
It is big and it is clever!
I have to disagree with quite a lot of what you've said here. There's nothing magic or innovative or insightful about white space but white space is just frequency spectrum. On the other hand, there IS a whole lot of extremely innovative technology required to make dynamic spectrum access work in the real world. And work is does as has been unequivocally demonstrated in trials.
You appear to be suggesting that it's no big deal and not very exciting. The rest of the world is pretty excited about the tens of billions of M2M connections that are forecasted for Smart Meters, Grids, Cities around the world and there is an undeniable momentum behind that happening. The value of this ecosystem is estimated variably from $1 trillion to $75 trillion and more depending on who you believe. Cisco recently suggested that it would be worth $14 trillion by 2020. GE published numbers back in December that broadly concur with these forecasts. MIT are more bullish. Whichever way you look at it, it is big and significant.
Declaring an interest, I represent the Weightless SIG, an M2M Standards body with an M2M over white space proposition that is difficult to argue against. It provides the template for low cost, low power, ubiquitous connectivity that is simply not possible through legacy technologies. PAN tech (Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Zigbee) has the right terminal price points but simply cannot provide the coverage required for many M2M applications. 2G/3G/LTE can provide the coverage but not the terminal price points nor the battery life needed to fit and forget wireless sensors. Weightless technology uniquely provides the best of both worlds.
I've never understood why this "white space" concept gets so much media hype.
TV channels are very narrow, compared with WiFi, WiMAX, or 3G/4G channels. which means you need to aggregate many of them, at least 3 and often more than that, to begin to match what the broadband wireless standards need.
The TV channels, even the UHF channels, are at much lower frequencies than any of the broadband wireless schemes out there now. Which means they are less compatible with cellular schemes, simply because they might just travel far enough to interfere with other cerlls on the same frequency, within a cellular mosaic. So for that reason too, they aren't ideal.
If people really do use over-the-air TV, then any close-by "white space" user could easily overwhelm the signal strength of somewhat distant TV stations, on many TV sets curreently on the market. Adjacent channel selectivity, and even selectivity for some channels that are NOT adjacent, can be on the order of 30 dB and sometimes even less than that, in sets on the market. So even in this regard, use of TV white spaces may be ill advised. The math is not difficult. Run some scenarios and see for yourselves.
Of course, TV white spaces provide some spectrum that could be put to use doing something other than TV. But they are hardly the only option, and these other uses can easily disrupt that spectrum's primary purpose. Mostly, though, there's nothing magic or even particularly innovative or insightful in any of this.
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.