updated 08:05 pm EST, Thu January 26, 2012
White space wireless exits trial phase
The first official, non-trial instance of white space wireless has gone live in the US on Thursday. The Wilmington, North Carolina access point is so far intended just for linking outdoor monitoring cameras and systems. It can still provide unlicensed, open wireless access at ranges as far as 328 feet, or well beyond the range of Wi-Fi.
Other deployments are expected in the near future, including services that would be more public facing. A Houston trial used the white space system as a bridge to give Internet access to a whole neighborhood.
How well white spaces work on a wide scale is still an unknown. Access works based on unused frequencies in between those used for digital TV and depends on local databases that determine which slices of spectrum are clear to use. It may create problems with developing technology that can consistently work across the US. Certain circumstances can also dictate that frequencies are temporarily closed off, something that's never a factor with Wi-Fi.
The airwave use still has the potential to change Internet access in the US, most of all for rural customers. Major Internet providers have often been reluctant to deploy broadband in rural areas because they don't believe they can justify the cost of wiring each home for the low revenue they would get. White spaces would let these providers run Internet connections just to the white space hotspots and share access with neighborhoods or whole communities.
Google, Microsoft, and other technology firms have been actively interested in white space wireless, and the IEEE has made a 22Mbps standard proposal that could make it viable for the public once costs come down. [via GigaOM]