I’m Dreaming of a White (Spaces) Christmas

You or a family member will likely unwrap a cool, wireless holiday gift this year.  It could be anything:  a new cell phone, a game console, a wireless door lock set, an eReader or a tablet computer.  A wireless BBQ thermometer can tell me when the meat’s perfectly done, and Granny can rest assured that if she falls down, someone will come to help.

For these wonders to happen, consumer devices must connect to a network, or some other device that’s connected to a network such as a smartphone, router or base station.  Wireless technologies used for these connections today include cellular, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Zigbee, Z-Wave, two-way paging and various proprietary technologies.  Soon, devices will also use TV “white space” to connect.

What’s TV white space?  In general, white spaces are empty patches of wireless spectrum that protect channels from interfering with each other or just aren’t being used, and there’s gobs of it.  Unlicensed access to TV white spaces may spur a technology innovation tide similar to wi-fi – indeed, the U.S. Congress has taken to calling this spectrum “Wi-Fi on steroids” or “Super Wi-Fi,” even though white space devices don’t use the 802.11 Wi-Fi standard.

Learn about what TV white spaces can do, and why they’re important for the Internet of Things, in my November/December Unplugged column in Connected World Magazine:  A White (Spaces) Christmas.


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