Spectrum scarcity is a problem today. And with an ever increasing demand for spectrum, it’s pertinent to find a more efficient and optimized use of this resource. Dynamic Spectrum Access technology is one such innovation developed to improve spectrum efficiency through allowing opportunistic access to under-utilized spectrum, and it finds its use in TV White Space (TVWS). For the uninitiated, TVWS are unused TV broadcast signals that can be used for alternative wireless broadband and M2M (machine-to-machine) communications. Located in the VHF and UHF bands (such as the 700MHz band here), you can think of them as gaps between broadcast channels. TVWS shares many similarities with Wi-Fi, but holds the upper hand in certain areas, such as requiring lower power, lower cost of deployment, and being able to cover longer distances. Its non-line-of-sight characteristic also allows it to penetrate natural obstacles such as dense vegetation, hills, and reflective water surfaces. As such, it works especially great for last-mile areas. And don't think of TVWS as replacements for incumbents like Wi-Fi, 3G, or LTE; they're meant to complement one another.
Here in Singapore, the Singapore White Spaces Pilot Group (SWSPG) aims to promote Singapore as a leading testbed and innovation zone for this technology. Formed in April last year, it’s also pursuing commercial pilots using TVWS and associated technologies, for both consumer and business applications in Singapore. The first commercial pilot deployments were announced in September last year, and today, the group follows that up with the next wave of deployments with Gardens by the Bay, Sentosa Development Corporation, the Housing and Development Board (HDB), and the Eurokars Group.
The new commercial pilots announced today are conducted under a test licence from the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) and uses a TVWS Geo-location Database developed specifically by Microsoft for Singapore, with inputs and advice from IDA.
Gardens by the Bay: A TVWS trial is undertaken at the Supertree Grove, Meadow, and Canopy sites to provide Wi-Fi connectivity to visitors, without intrusive equipment and wiring built-ups over the greeneries.
Sentosa: A trial is underway to provide Wi-Fi coverage and deploy security surveillance cameras at Siloso Beach, Belawang Beach, and the Merlion complex.
HDB: TVWS technology is used for video surveillance for rooftop security, car park enforcement, and also, getting real time video from the lift system in HDB buildings. The aim is to improve efficiency (currently, cameras use local storage and manual collection is needed), and ultimately, security and safety for the residents.
Eurokars Group: The local flagship car dealership is using TVWS to cost effectively extend their IT network to a number of outlying buildings. It’ll complement their unique concierge services, like test-drive vehicle tracking, and customer scheduled service management.
SWSPG is also announcing nine new members, bringing its membership from nine to 18. The new members include: Grid Communications, Terrabit Networks, National Institute of Information and Communications Technology - Japan (NICT), Eurokars Group, Sentosa Development Corporation, HDB, NexWave, iconectiv, and ST Electronics (Info-Comm Systems). They add to the existing nine members that consist of Microsoft Singapore, StarHub, Institute for Infocomm Research (I2R), Neul, Adaptrum, Power Automation, Singapore Island Country Club, Spectrum Bridge, and ZDW Systems.
Many of the members (such as Microsoft, Adaptrum, Neul, NICT, I2R, and StarHub) are also members of the new 23-member-strong Dynamic Spectrum Alliance, a global initiative aimed at promoting regulatory policies that will pave the way for innovative new wireless technologies to address growing wireless data and digital divide challenges.
Taking this opportunity, IDA has today also announced the start of a public consultation on the use of TVWS technology in Singapore. The aim is to help IDA better understand the market demand for this tech and its applications, and the industry’s needs and challenges, so as to enable IDA to develop a regulatory framework.
IDA invites interested parties to submit their comments on the proposed TVWS regulatory framework. More information can be found at: www.ida.gov.sg/Policies-and-Regulations/Consultation-Papers-and-Decisions/Open-For-Public-Comments.
Source: SWSPG, IDA.