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Parallels drawn between white space technologies, WiMAX and LTE

Tuesday, July 5th 2011
IMS Research has compared the differing use of white space technologies to the "saga" of LTE and WiMAX mobile broadband services.
Parallels drawn between white space technologies, WiMAX and LTE
The use of white space technology for Wi-Fi and applications such as smart meters has been compared to the running battle between WiMAX and Long-Term Evolution (LTE) mobile broadband services.

In recent weeks, major internet service providers and tech companies such as Microsoft, BT, the BBC and Sky appear to have committed to the use of white space radio waves to deliver wireless broadband.

Under the banner of 802.11af, these partners are utilising the spare frequency between digital TV channels to bring Wi-Fi access to previously unconnected areas.

Meanwhile, white space radio start-up Neul has favoured a different approach to the technology, instead using it to target smart meters and machine-to-machine apps such as asset tracking and base station management.

Filomena Berardi, senior research analyst and lead analyst for WLAN, Wi-Fi and 802.11 at IMS Research, drew a parallel between this and the "saga" of LTE and WiMAX.

Although WiMAX came to market first, LTE proved more popular in the long run - particularly with mobile network operators - thanks to its similarity to existing 3G mobile broadband standards, she explained.

While it is currently too early to tell which white space solution will win through, Ms Berardi claimed overlap and comparisons between the two are inevitable.

"As we've seen in the past, industry backing will be critical in the successful development of the technologies," she remarked.

"Regardless of standard, trials will be vital, with concerns voiced that interference will be caused when operating in this spectrum."

At the end of last month, Cambridge Consultants - one of the organisations currently taking part in the white space pilot in Cambridge - demonstrated the effectiveness of the technology by using it to send a tweet from the 'not-spot' village of Cottenham.

The design and development firm also used the Wi-Fi network, delivered via an antenna on top of the Cambridge Consultants office, to access Skype and YouTube.

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