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Study Shows Inequalities in 'White-Spaces' Wireless

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Berkeley Wireless Research Center's Mubaraq Mishra

"We wanted to know how many channels or how much bandwidth does a random person in the U.S. get," says Mubaraq Mishra, who conducted the white spaces study with UC Berkeley colleagues.

Credit: Mubaraq Mishra

University of California, Berkeley (UCB) researchers recently published a detailed analysis of the potential for long-distance wireless Internet connectivity using white spaces, the portion of the radio spectrum that was vacated by the switch to digital TV. The analysis shows how the interaction of population density, TV stations, and economics will determine what consumers get from spectrum, which will remain unlicensed. The spectrum's lower-frequency signals travel further and penetrate buildings more effectively than existing wireless data connections such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or cell phone links.

The UCB model uses the Federal Communication Commission's database of active TV stations as well as census figures to calculate the usable white space available in each area. "White spaces are ultimately for people, not random locations, so we think it's important to also incorporate that," says UCB's Mubaraq Mishra.

In general, the researchers found that areas with more TV stations and more people will experience slower access speeds.

From Technology Review
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