SOLVING THE SPECTRUM CRUNCH
Complementing 3G and Wi-Fi, TVWS Will Finally Enable Internet Access Everywhere
In Singapore, it's easy to get Internet access. Most households and offices are wired up, and cellular coverage is (mostly) good when you're out and about. But there are blind spots for Wi-Fi and 3G; for example, when you're trekking in a forest surrounded by dense vegetation. And that's where TV 'white spaces' (TVWS) come in, which simply put, is to make use of unused TV frequencies in the broadcast TV spectrum for alternative wireless broadband.
TVWS shares many similarities with Wi-Fi, but holds the upper hand in certain areas. For example, its non-line-of-sight characteristic allows it to penetrate natural obstacles such as dense vegetation, hills, and reflective water surfaces. More importantly, it requires lower power, is cheaper to deploy, and is able to cover longer distances. For Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei, the focus at the moment is on the 700MHz band, which is the band used for analog broadcasting.
The Singapore White Spaces Pilot Group (SWSPG) is leading this TVWS initiative. With the blessings of the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) and using TVWS geolocation data developed by Microsoft, more pilot projects have been recently announced - and they go beyond wireless Internet access services. For example, the Housing Development Board - Singapore's public housing agency - is using TVWS tech for video surveillance for rooftop security, car park enforcement, and getting real-time video from the lift system in HDB buildings. And Sentosa is using it to deploy security surveillance cameras at a couple of beaches. Indeed, with applications ranging from wireless broadband access and M2M (machine-to-machine) connectivity, to smart metering and security monitoring networks, TVWS is as promising a technology for a golf course owner hoping to provide wireless broadband to its members when they're on the course, as to telcos looking to ease Internet traffic congestion, or governments in developing nations looking to provide broadband access in rural areas.
All that said; it would take at least a couple more years before 'Super Wi-Fi' becomes ubiquitous here. For one, IDA still needs time to finalize a regulatory framework (public consultation is now on-going), and manage practical problems like cross-border interference. But that day will come, especially as we move closer to 2020, the deadline set for ASEAN countries to fully transition from analog to digital TV broadcasts.
"TVWS shares many similarities with Wi-Fi, but holds the upper hand in