Spectrum Sharing Summit: Commercial Production is Here

Wireless Wonk

Spectrum Sharing Summit: Commercial Production is Here

By Barlow Keener, Attorney  |  April 02, 2014

From Jan, 29-31, 2014, the Super Wi-Fi & Shared Spectrum Summit gathered in sunny Miami Beach. Hosted by Crossfire Media in conjunction with the M2M Evolution conference, the summit will reconvene again on Aug. 29 in Las Vegas.  Super Wi-FI, aka TV white spaces, TVWS and spectrum sharing are gaining strong momentum from regulators, engineers, and mobile carriers as the most effective solution for the feared spectrum crunch.

The Miami conference buzzed with excitement as reports on the first commercial deployments and production started for the shared spectrum database-controlled broadband radios. One of the main points of the conference was an industry move away from the debate of licensed vs. unlicensed spectrum.  As pointed out by speakers like John Malyar, iConectiv chief architect, the database is constantly updated by real-time data from regulators, carriers, licensors, public safety, geographical requirements, terrain, and radio locations. These database parameters would determine which spectrum slice a software-defined network database-controlled radio can use and when.    

There were several big takeaways from the summit, including: 

Standards New IEEE (News - Alert) standards 802.11af and 802.22 are being implemented in pilot radios, as pointed out by Hitachi Kokusai Electric’s Toh Keatbeng and Dr. Hiroshi Harada of NICT.  IEEE 802.11af would provide a standard for short haul such as using 470-698mHz inside a home to propagate as much as 426mbps using four spatial streams and four bonded channels down to the basement and far outside the backyard to a tablet enabled with 802.11af.  802.22 would deliver standardized long-haul broadband through trees.  Chipsets will dramatically lower the costs.

Through the trees Wireless ISPs are buying SDN 470-698mHz agile radios and getting solid results. The new radios are delivering broadband where 3.5gHz WiMAX and 900Hz radios failed completely. Ken Garnett, CTO for Cal.net, gave a spell-binding presentation showing actual propagation comparisons of WiMAX 3.5gHz and 900mHz to the new 470-698mHz radios through real trees and hills. The results proved that super Wi-Fi is a thriving ecosystem. 

TV incentive auction uncertainty Economist Dr. Giulia McHenry of Brattle Group; Marty Stern of K&L Gates; and Bruce Jacobs of Pillsbury Law forecasted that it was likely that more available spectrum would be unleashed by the auction than is now available in NFL cities by dedicating the duplex-guard band and other new spectrum to unlicensed TVWS use.  However, all noted that until the FCC (News - Alert) provides an order defining the auction in more detail, their prognostications are merely best guesses. The panelists were more certain that available TVWS spectrum would remain in rural areas because there was already more than enough vacant spectrum.    

Satellite sharing Counsel for the four major satellite firms discussed sharing issues with economist Armand Musey of Summit Ridge.  Globalstar's Vice President Barbee Ponder, Lightsquared's Executive Vice President Jeff Carlisle, SES (News - Alert)'s Senior Vice President Gerry Oberst, and Dish's Senior Vice President Jeff Blum explained that with the spectrum crunch, satellite companies are proposing new methods for using available terrestrial spectrum.  There is the unresolved problem of poorly designed GPS radios receiving interference by operating outside of the assigned spectrum. 

FCC approval for Carlson Radio  Carlson Wireless (News - Alert) CEO Jim Carlson reported that Carlson got approval for the third commercial SDN controlled 470-698mHz radio.   

West Virginia bus nomadic connectivity pilot Adaptrum's Darrin Mylet reported on a pilot with the University of West Virginia where Wi-Fi was delivered nomadically to buses driving through tree-covered areas in Morganton using TVWS Adaptrum radios. Nomadicity is the first step to mobile use.

The Customers: Video & M2M Wireless ISPs are the primary buyers but are accustomed to purchasing lower cost 900mHz and 3.5gHz WiMAX radios. However, KTS's Andy Mancone  and Meldtech's imediaReach Gary Bonner explained that other industries such as national parks, stadiums, oil and gas, construction, heavy equipment, and M2M are buying and are not so price sensitive.

Gigabit Libraries delivering Wi-Fi hotspots Don Means, Founder of the Gigabit Libraries presented on the application for the new Super Wi-Fi by public libraries. Libraries across the country responded and purchased TVWS radios to deliver Wi-Fi out to various points beyond the library building.  

The enthusiasm among the attendees was clear, and Super Wi-Fi should have a good year in technology improvement and in revenue growth.

Barlow Keener (News - Alert) is the principal with Keener Law Group (www.keenerlawgroup.com) out of Boston.


Edited by Stefania Viscusi