The Singapore White Spaces Pilot Group (SWSPG), with core members consisting of Microsoft Singapore, Starhub, and the Institute for Infocomm Research, announced a series of TV White Spaces (TVWS) commercial deployments earlier today during a press event held at Microsoft's Technology Centre. Miss Jessica Tan, General Manager of Microsoft's Asia Pacific Enterprise & Partner Group, gave press members an overview of TVWS, which was closely followed by introductory speeches delivered by key members of the SWSPG consortium.
What is TVWS Exactly?
According to Miss Tan, TVWS refers to unused spectrum in TV broadcast bands which can be utilized for alternative wireless broadband capabilities. These lower-frequency white spaces (typically on the 700MHz band) have the edge over conventional Wi-Fi, including its ability to traverse longer distances and penetrate natural obstacles such as dense vegetation, hills, and reflective water surfaces. For network providers, this also translates into better coverage, lower power consumption, and reduced network costs. Another benefit is TVWS does not require line-of sight for broadband transmissions too. As a result, TVWS is sometimes known as "Super Wi-Fi". Mr Michael Thatcher, Chief Technology Officer of Microsoft's Public Sector Asia, added that TVWS is not designed as a replacement for current Wi-Fi technologies, but a complementary spectrum designed for higher capacities, and to reach areas inaccessible to wireless broadband by conventional means. The IEEE final standard for TVWS is expected at the end of 2013.
Ongoing TVWS Pilot Projects
Three of the local pilot projects include Microsoft's and Neul's (a UK-based wireless solutions firm) partnership with Singapore Island Country Club to help improve the club's wireless connectivity among its various sites with the aid of TVWS technology. The other trial involves Marine Wi-Fi applications, where TVWS is used primarily to deploy wireless broadband services for marine vessels stationed as far away as 10 kilometers from the shoreline. This project is currently carried out in Changi. Lastly, A*STAR's Institute for Infocomm Research is currently working with Power Automation Pte Ltd on a pilot project based in NUS (National University of Singapore) to develop TVWS based on Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) Communications. For instance, utility providers will be able to track and control utility meters remotely, and in a more cost-effective manner.
Besides these projects, a live demo was shown for the benefit of journalists present at the press event as well. A Starhub femto-cell and Wi-Fi access point was positioned at Verve Pizza Bar, situated approximately 1.2km away from Microsoft's office located at the 21st floor at Marina Boulevard. Using the UHF spectrum (that's part of TVWS) and Channel 54 temporarily granted by IDA for the demo, the SWSPG team managed to stream a high-definition video over to the pizza joint in real-time with little difficulty. In this example, 14Mbps of additional broadband capacity was transmitted to an area over a lone 8MHz TVWS channel. Assuming seven channels were combined, approximately 100Mbps of broadband capacity can be delivered to any under-served or un-served locations with TVWS.
SWSPG expects more key members to join the group in the upcoming months. On top of that, a full-day TVWS workshop will be conducted for industry players in October, held in conjunction with the International Institute of Communications Annual Conference here in Singapore. More projects are expected within the October and December time-frame, while the SWSPG consortium is expected to respond to IDA's TVWS consultation during this period as well. The full press release is available on the next page.