TV White Space: The Missing Link for rural Broadband?

August 3, 2018

As the number of wireless devices continues to increase exponentially, the demand being put on the radio spectrum to comfortably deliver existing and new services is rising.

Luckily, advances in dynamic management of spectrum, alongside new technologies that allow devices to have the ‘intelligence’ to know where they are, are allowing us to utilise valuable low frequency spectrum that would otherwise be unused.

One of the areas being most widely utilised is TV white space.

What is TV white space?

Within the wireless spectrum there are allocated broadcast frequencies that are unused by television networks, which leave gaps in the channels. These are referred to as ‘white space’. This space in the spectrum is similar to those used for 4G and so has the capabilities to be used for widespread broadband internet to areas that would otherwise be without connectivity.

There is great scope for TV white space to ‘fill in the gaps’ with existing broadband connectivity, particularly in rural areas.

Advantages of TV white space over other technologies

Range and strength

Unlike typical domestic Wi-Fi which can only travel through approximately two walls and has around 100 meters range (under perfect conditions), white space broadband can travel up to 10 kilometres, through various types of vegetation, buildings and structures. This makes it extremely appealing for rural areas.

Works with existing technology

Tablets, phones and computers can all access the internet wirelessly via white space, through fixed or portable power stations.

Non-Line-of-Sight (NLOS) Performance

Microwave links recquire line-of-sigh (LOS) between connection points. However, TV white space offers an alternative to this, by utilising the lower-frequency UHF signals that can penetrate obstacles and uneven ground, meaning expensive towers don’t need to be erected to add TVWS capability to existing network infrastructure.

The missing link

With so many areas affected by poor broadband connectivity, coupled with a relentless increase in wireless popularity, TV white space has provided the perfect platform to deal with the problem.


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