Nation's First White Spaces Network Deployed

Residents of Claudville, Va., are the first to take advantage of last year's vote by the Federal Communications Commission to allow the unlicensed use of the interference buffer zones between digital television channels to deliver broadband and other advanced media services.

Hello, Claudville, Va., the home of the nation's first deployed wireless TV white spaces network. The FCC (Federal Communications Commission) voted a year ago to allow the unlicensed use of the interference buffer zones -- known as white spaces -- between digital television signals to deliver broadband and other advanced media services.
Under an experimental license granted by the FCC, Spectrum Bridge designed and deployed the wireless TV white spaces network to distribute broadband Internet connectivity in Claudville. Dell, Microsoft and the TDF Foundation contributed state-of-the-art computer systems and software applications to the local school, as well as the town's new computer center.
"I hope that Claudville will become a model for delivering broadband services to more rural communities in a cost-effective manner in the future," Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet, said in a statement.
The TV white spaces network is providing the "middle mile" link between the wired backhaul and the Wi-Fi hot spot networks deployed in Claudville's business area as well as the local school. The same network is also providing last mile broadband connectivity directly to end users.
To ensure that the use of TV white spaces in Claudville does not cause interference with local TV signals, the network is controlled by Spectrum Bridge's intelligent TV white spaces database system. This database assigns non-interfering frequencies to white spaces devices and can adapt in real time to new TV broadcasts, as well as to other protected TV band users operating in the area.

"Due to its availability and range, TV white spaces have proved to be a very cost-effective way to distribute high-speed Internet in this heavily forested and hilly rural community," said Peter Stanforth, CTO of Spectrum Bridge. "The non-line of sight conditions, coupled with long distances between radios, would have posed significant challenges to existing unlicensed alternatives. TV white spaces could prove to be invaluable to those striving to bring broadband access to underserved and unserved rural communities."

The FCC white spaces decision came after a six-year proceeding at the agency that pitted broadcasters and a wide array of entertainment interests that were using the spectrum for the operation of wireless microphones against such powerhouse technology firms as Google, Microsoft, Intel, Motorola and Intel. Both Microsoft's Bill Gates and Google's Larry Page personally lobbied the FCC in favor of the use of white spaces.

The FCC's testing of devices operating in the white spaces was the cause of much dispute during the FCC proceeding. The FCC began testing white space devices with mixed results in January 2008 using a prototype device supplied by Microsoft. In July, the agency moved the tests outdoors using devices from Motorola, Philips, Adaptrum and InfoComm International. By October of last year, the FCC said testing proved white spaces devices would not cause interference.