TV White Spaces may herald new age of broadband in India


Even though microwave spectrum is a natural resource, there is scarcity of this natural resource as different spectrum bands are used for multiple services such as telecommunications, defense and television broadcasting. However, when it comes to TV broadcasting, there are certain pockets of spectrum which are not being utilized locally and such TV white spaces may provide greater level of broadband connectivity.

“TV White Spaces hold great potential for a country like India. TV white spaces can easily be used for middle mile connectivity and high speed broadband can be provided. And especially this could be a great solution to solve the rural connectivity challenge in India,” explained, Abhay Karandikar, Professor and Head, Department of Electrical engineering, IIT, Bombay.

In the current scenario in India, while metros and class A cities are well connected, smaller locations and especially rural areas need a boost like this to enable connectivity at the rural level. Globally, there has been a lot of work happening on this front, IT and Internet majors such as Microsoft and Google are big proponents of utilizing white spaces in a better manner.

Digitization of TV, Opening up White Spaces 

While this could be a great way to utilize the unused frequencies, at the same time it can herald a new era of broadband connectivity in rural areas of countries such as India. These white spaces in microwave spectrum exist naturally between two used TV channel frequencies, simply to avoid spectrum interference. In addition to white space assigned for technical reasons, there is also unused radio spectrum which has either never been used, or is becoming free as a result of technical changes (analog to digital signaling).

According to telecom experts, the switchover to digital television is usually vacating about 50 MHz and 700 MHz highly valued airwaves, which can be used for connectivity purpose. As with the help of digital transmission, frequency band can be compressed into fewer channels, while still allowing for more transmissions. When white spaces get utilized for penetrating broadband connectivity, this could also create true convergence of TV and telecom at the spectrum level.

Picture Courtesy: