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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

About White Spaces

What we really need is NONEXCLUSIVE licensing of the TV white spaces -- similar to the licensing which has been established for the 3.65 GHz band, but with a mandatory spectrum etiquette that allows the spectrum to be shared among multiple broadband providers and their customers. This would maximize the use of the spectrum and also consumer choice.

What we need the spectrum for is to deliver wireless broadband, on frequencies which are NOT polluted by an untold number of consumer devices.

We should allocate higher unlicensed frequencies -- which have a HARDER time penetrating walls-- so that each user's home is his or her "spectrum castle." If any more spectrum is needed for indoor wireless (though it's not clear that it is), how about liberalizing the rules for the 24 GHz unlicensed "low millimeter wave" band so that it can be used in the home? This would make far more sense than turning consumer devices loose on the TV bands. The "white spaces," in turn, could be reserved for services that deliver wireless broadband right through the walls of these "castles," so as to connect them to the Internet without drilling holes or mounting outdoor antennas.

Shannon's Law dictates that the way to get the greatest utility out of spectrum is not to slice it up into little chunks and license it exclusively, but rather to share large swaths of spectrum, intelligently, using cognitive radio technology. In fact, if we do not do the latter, wireless will never be useful to deliver "ultra- broadband" -- that is, speeds of 100 Mbps and up -- to multiple users from a single transmitter.

Brett Glass
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