White Spaces Tested in Wilmington NC

The first 'Smart City' network trial utilizing TV white spaces has been launched in Wilmington N.C. We explain how the new trial could change our technology.

Spectrum Bridge announced today that the City of Wilmington N.C. has launched the nation’s first “Smart City” wireless network trial utilizing TV white spaces (pdf). The Wilmington/New Hanover County area was selected because it was the first major TV market in the nation, to convert from analog to DTV broadcasting. TV white spaces are the unused TV broadcast channels made available by the recent transition from analog to digital TV.

The network, a public-private partnership, will help government leaders identify how TV white spaces can expand existing and deliver new services.

“This is an example of technology offering us the tools to operate the City more efficiently and effectively,” said Bill Saffo, Mayor of the City of Wilmington. “For example, our Traffic Division can use the technology to manage signals and monitor vehicle flow without the costs and disruption of running additional fiber or cables.”

The initial applications deployed using TV white spaces frequencies include:

  • Department of Transportation Traffic Cameras
  • Public Safety and WiFi Access at Community Parks – Delivers real-time video monitoring and offers citizens free WiFi while in the park.
  • Water & Wetlands Monitoring – Enables remote monitoring and management of wetland areas, which eliminates the costs associated with physically driving or boating to the monitoring stations.

Additional applications planned for deployment as part of the Smart City trial network include:

  • Water Pump Station Monitoring and Control – Reduces energy consumption and costs, increases equipment life and enables faster identification and mitigation of spills
  • Medical telemetry – Enables remote monitoring and reporting of biometric measurements for at risk populations
  • Expanded Broadband Access for Schools – Increases student, teacher and administration access to internet based educational resources

“We’ve had tremendous support from the City of Wilmington, the county of New Hanover, and our technology partner Spectrum Bridge,” said Dr. John Chapin, consultant to TV Band Service. “We expect to learn a lot about the technology and the uses of the TV White Spaces through this trial.”

To ensure that the white spaces network does not cause interference with licensed television broadcasts and other protected TV band users, the system operates under the control of Spectrum Bridge’s intelligent TV white spaces database. This database dynamically assigns non-interfering frequencies to white spaces devices and adapts in real-time to new TV broadcasts, as well as other protected TV band users operating in the area.

TV white spaces availability can be found for any location in the US by using the free search tool at Spectrum Bridge’s ShowMyWhiteSpace.com website, or by downloading the company’s free iPhone application.

A November 2008 FCC decision opened up white spaces in the broadcast television band, from 512MHz to 698MHz. TV white spaces can cover larger areas than WiFi, although their power is limited to 1 watt (100mW mobile). Devices “listen” before they “talk” and utilize maps of nearby licensed transmitters to prevent interference. If potential interference is detected, they switch to another channel.

Written by: Luke Pensworth

Luke is the managing editor and site manager of Dailywireless. As a wireless enthusiast/consumer, he reviews a lot of services based on his own experience. Disgruntled as he may be, he tries to keep his articles as honest as possible.

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