TV white space to provide ‘super Wi-Fi’ coverage for rural areas

Wireless broadband Internet access will be available to more rural and near-urban areas in Canada with the release by Industry Canada of unused television spectrum also known as TV white spaces (TVWS).

TVWS are ideal for providing Wi-Fi-like services in rural areas because TV frequencies already provide excellent coverage in these areas. Unlike typical Wi-Fi that covers a small area such as offices or facilities like shopping malls and airports, TVWS can provide what is called “super Wi-FI” because it can cover a much wider area, according to a networking expert.

“Service providers can bridge Wi-Fi to create overlapping zones that will cover a much larger area,” said Roberta Fox, president of Mount Albert, Ont.-based unified communications and telecommunications firm Fox Group. “This is a very positive development for consumers in near-urban and rural areas as well as small Internet providers that area servicing these areas which as typically not the focus of larger providers.”

For example, TVWS could be used to provide Internet access to municipalities just a few kilometers from Toronto that have new subdivision developments but very weak broadband signals, Fox said.

“Many small, family-operated Internet service firms will also welcome this announcement because it will enhance their capability,” she added.

The idea of using TVWS for providing rural broadband access has been around for years. However, one of the major hurdles were concerns that TVWS devices would interfere with analog TV station signals.

However, in 2007 Industry Canada stopped issuing licenses for new television transmitters broadcasting in analog. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) also mandated that stations transition to digital transmission by 2011.

Industry Canada issued a policy permitting the use of TVWS devices in 2012.

TVWS devices will initially provide broadband Internet similar to Wi-Fi but with expanded coverage exceeding that of traditional Wi-Fi. This will allow TVWS devices to be used in Canada without interfering with existing TV broadcasts, said Industry Canada Minister James Moore.

Industry Canada along with industry stakeholders has published technical standards and operational requirements to enable the use of TVWS across the country.

Related Government of Canada links

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Nestor E. Arellano
Nestor E. Arellano
Toronto-based journalist specializing in technology and business news. Blogs and tweets on the latest tech trends and gadgets.

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