In U.K., Microsoft is heading the first trails of using it

Are we ready to take on the “White Spaces” and harness them for better and more thorough use of spectrum? And we do not mean “white spaces” literally.

Technically, “White Spaces” is a term used to “indicate those parts of the spectrum used for communication applications [like radio, television and Internet] available in a given geographical area that work without causing interference to the primary users of spectrum.”

As IIT Bombay faculty Abhay Karandikar (Department of Electrical Engineering) and Akshay Mishra (Researcher IIT Bombay) explain, “It is a bit like the public walkways in a garden. For example, these walkways can accommodate about 50 people at a given time. After that there is no space for more. But these 50 could be replaced by another 50, who could walk once the previous people are done.”

The primary users are the licensed users of spectrum band. They often do not use the allocated spectrum to the maximum. “White Space” devices could help find the spectrum's under-utilised aspects and make the secondary users utilise them without causing any interference to the primary users. Simply, the technology works by sensing the spectrum that remains unused and uses it to transmit wireless products.

Mr. Karandikar and Mr. Mishra say that much of the “White Space” spectrum in the U.S and Europe was being regulated to operate under unlicensed or lightly licensed ways to provide a platform for innovation in the wireless industry. This would help create methods to provide future broadband wireless services and applications to people at a lower cost.

Research, especially in the U.S and the U.K., is heralding interesting developments.

In Microsoft's Richmond Campus, researcher Ranveer Chandra is working to harness the enormous potential of “White Spaces” to deliver broadband wireless that help people stay better connected. His work focuses on examining how large scale networks could be used to deliver wireless Internet over large areas.

The problem, as also underlined by Mr. Karandikar and Mr. Misra, is one of determining the frequencies that differ from geographical locations. Mr. Chandra's method is looking into using the GPS system to determine the location and change to backup slices of unused spectrum identified. His prototypes have already been examined by researchers from India.

In their paper titled “Proposal for TV White Space towards National Frequency Allocation Plan (NFAP) 2010,” Mr. Karandikar, Mr. Misra, and Sidharth Shetty have identified potential for shared use of the India's television “White Space” spectrum by several applications. Devices like mobile phones, personal media players, wi-fi cards can use the space thus identified.

“The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is looking at this technology with interest, but India does not have any policy in this frequency and it is illegal to import or own any such wireless device. The analog TV is still quite alive in our country. It is assumed that users of “White Space” radios will do so with responsibility so that it is available for use to all,” Mr. Karandikar says.

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