Thursday, September 24, 2009

White Spaces - $100 Billion Over 15 Years; Wide-Area Broadband Closer To Reality

Microsoft commissioned a study finding that white spaces technology will yield a worth of $100 billion in the next 15 years.  Is that a large figure?  Well, these days when federal deficit is over a trillion, it's a pretty small number.

But the $100 billion figure is nothing compared to the potential economic and scientific advances that can result from the use of white spaces.  here are some advantages of white spaces:
  • As an alternative wireless network for mobile warriors, it frees users to venture further than current Wi-Fi access points allow.
  • Because of the greater range, it may be cheaper to deploy broadband access in rural areas or provide better wireless coverage
  • A potential competition to existing mobile networks.
  • Education
  • Research and development
  • Enjoys the support of the FCC, Google, Microsoft
  • Encourage greater innovation
  • white spaces range is 3 times better than Wi-Fi.  I'm sure that range will increase over time.  I need it go be about 150 meters for me to use a white spaces access point from home to my local coffee shop, who does offer Wi-Fi access.
When you figure in the economic and educational benefits, you can potentially double or triple the benefits of white spaces if it works out as expected.  At $200-300 billion, you're starting to talk about big money.  

Currently, engineers and, likely, attorneys are working over how the specs should work for white spaces and there is no telling when their hard work will bear fruit.  But I'm optimistic.  

Right now, I see two potential uses for white spaces.  It can replace traditional Wi-Fi access points.  White spaces equipment will cost more but the added benefits will quickly sell itself.  

The second use, and this is where it is more speculation than anything I've heard, is if you can hook up a bunch of these white spaces points and link them together, you can potentially blanket a whole region and offer open Internet access.  

I've spoken this with friends in the know previously about this and their arguments have always been about range.  Perhaps, white spaces is the answer for a virtual open network.  Such a deployment call challenge the DSL and cable companies and offer an alternative to broadband access altogether.

More information from daily wireless.

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