Sunday, May 27, 2012

Could White Spaces "Revolutionize" Access?

White spaces broadband is viewed by many as an important new challenger in the broadband access business.  There are a couple of ways white spaces can be viewed. Some might see it as a potential replacement for mobile broadband, while others might see it as a replacement for fixed broadband.

It is too early to say where, or how much, either of those positions might be true. One can note any number of would-be challengers that have garnered attention over the last couple of decades.

Wi-Fi itself was once seen as a potential challenger to mobile networks. Power line technologies have been discussed for decades as a new broadband access platform. Before Sprint was born, frequencies used for educational TV (MMDS) were seen as the foundation for a new sort of "personal communications service" that would be different from "cellular telephone" service.

Metropolitan broadband using wireless techniques have been seen as rivals to telco or cable TV access services. Other wireless techniques such as that used by Ricochet Networks also were tried in the first decade of the 21st century.

The point is that any number of attempts to create new and successful broadband networks have been tried over the last couple of decades. Judging by market share, none of them have gained significant share in the market, and most have failed to get traction in the way initially forecast.

Public Wi-Fi has become important, but more as a feature of a fixed broadband or mobile broadband network, than as an alternative to cable modem, digital subscriber line or fiber to the home service.

It remains to be seen whether white spaces will fare any better than earlier efforts.

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