White Space Wireless

White Space Wireless

IrelandOffline notes the flurry of publicity surrounding so called White Space wireless (or using locally/regionally unused spectrum which is allocated to specific uses nationally) in recent weeks.

IrelandOffline consider that the potential for interference to legitimate primary and secondary radio spectrum users is so great that we cannot see the value of such an initiative.

IrelandOffline calls upon all participants to focus instead on delivering a widespread deployment of fibre-to-the-premises which, in conjunction with future WiFi technologies, will render the need for the current White Space proposals redundant within a few years and which is a better and more focused way of delivering high capacity to end users.

Spectrum bands such as those used by MMDS[1], GSM, 3G and LTE[2] have White Space in the same sense as does the Digital TV UHF Band [3] . References to White Space in the media suggest the technology is for use only in the Digital Dividend 800MHz UHF Band [4], which in Ireland has been earmarked for LTE. In fact no-one would have bid for the 800 MHz Digital Dividend band if White Space transmission had been allowed. Any deployment on a ‘white space’ basis into a band with already licensed users (Digital TV, MMDS, Mobile, FWA) will cause interference.

On a related topic, we note the severe interference already being caused to established spectrum users by the likes of Homeplug/Powerline devices which pollute far too much spectrum and which devices are utterly unregulated in Ireland. Despite this interference regulators are not intervening to protect spectrum users as they should, preferring to pass the buck instead.. White Space, as proposed, promises more of the same, only on a much wider scale. We note further that such a system has never been successfully deployed anywhere.

IrelandOffline feels that sufficient spectrum is available, for the uses proposed by White Space proponents at high frequencies and notes the current work of the 802.11ad ‘Wigig’ WiFi group with 60 ghz spectrum that will not interfere beyond the room it is used in. This is because the frequency is too high to penetrate walls and therefore interfere with other spectrum users.

Too often a distraction such as this appears and diverts attention from the real issues in Ireland. The real issue is to deliver a future proof and high capacity access network. This can only be delivered by pushing fibre very close to or into the premises.

If owners of spectrum such as Broadcasters and Mobile networks wish to recycle their spectrum holdings they are free to join a white space planning group. We note that none have and doubt whether they ever will.

1 MMDS – Multipoint Microwave Distribution System; a wireless cable TV system.
2 LTE – Long Term Evolution, a 4g mobile technology
3 Digital TV band – 474 – 790 MHz
4 Digital Dividend – the 800 MHz+ spectrum band. 790 – 862 MHz Formerly Occupied By TV.

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