According to Juniper Research, the use of white space bands could become a trend in M2M design and broadband service to remote markets such as rural locations. White space bands are the now-unused portion of the broadcast spectrum that freed up after broadcast signals switched to digital.
Several features of white space make it an attractive option for rural broadband. Since they were designed originally for television broadcasts, the waves can travel long distances, penetrate buildings better and require fewer base stations. This band is also unlicensed and thus it is almost free to use.
White space technology is also useful for several M2M applications, especially those not requiring 2G and 3G speeds. Smart meters, and devices that monitor passenger vehicles or track goods are some possible M2M uses.
The chipset cost is much less for white space than for higher speed signals. In 2012, the chipset cost was about $5 and is expected to drop to $1 in 2014. A 2G chipset is about $10 and a 3G can be as much as $30.
One of the leaders in white space technology is Cambridge, UK-based Neul Ltd. They have developed NeulNET, a “network in a box” that allows users to set up their own white space network, delivering 16Mb/s over a distance of 10 km. Their technology extends the battery life of low-bandwidth M2M devices to 15 years and can operate in so-called “grey spaces” where white space is subject to interference.
When the word “technology” is used, most of the time it’s associated with more speed, memory or processing power. While those are certainly important qualities, Neul and similar companies have demonstrated that’s not all technology is. By creatively repurposing what had become outdated broadcast technology, these vendors have opened up possibilities for many markets that were underserved by conventional providers. All technology amounts to when you get down to it, is a creative way to solve problems.
Edited by Rich Steeves