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Spectrum Bridge Creates First White Space Wireless Broadband Network

Claudville.
The beginning of the end of the rural digital divide.

This is what kept running through my mind as I sat in room 2103 of the Rayburn office building next to the US Capital. I sat spellbound listening to the school children in Claudville, Virginia, sandwiched between FCC commissioners, members of the press, representatives of Dell and Microsoft, Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA), Chairman of the House Communications, Technology, and the Internet Subcommittee, and, of course, folks from Spectrum Bridge and the TDF Foundation.

It seemed this was the beginning of the end of the great digital divide for the un-served and under-served populations of this country. An affordable, reliable wireless broadband alternative to dial-up for the rest of America.

Spectrum Bridge successfully created the first white space wireless broadband network and connected the Appalachian community of Claudville, VA to the rest of the internet. Utilizing the spectrum abandoned by the digital TV transition, they were able to deliver a reliable broadband wireless connection of around 8 MB per second while transmitting the signal over 1.5 mile between antennas.

This was financially possible thanks to a generous grant from a foundation set up by our very good friends and co-investors at TD Fund. Additionally, Microsoft and Dell provided the computer hardware to run the network and provided six laptops to the school. Finally, the years of a slow, painful dial-up connection were finally over for the residents of Claudville.

While that may in itself have been interesting, it was the way the network was constructed that is truly revolutionary. Spectrum Bridge, utilizing their White Space database and proprietary spectrum management systems, constructed the wireless network over the white space spectrum, which has never been done before. They were able to give a licensed spectrum experience to the students and residents of Claudville, over the spectrum previously used by analog TV transmission.

This new technology from Spectrum Bridge will finally allow rural areas previously under- or un-served with high speed broadband connectivity to be connected at an affordable cost. As I listened to the school children excitedly discuss how this was going to help them in school as well as in life and how the administrator of the school was going to now be able to reach all the students in the outlying areas with distance learning programs, I could not be more proud of what Spectrum Bridge had accomplished.

What others are saying:
Stacey Higginbotham at GigaOM

Chris Jacob at Gizmodo

Erica Naone at MIT Technology Review

Congressman Rick Boucher

Lynette Luna at FierceWireless

Simple Spectrum Bridge schematic

Comments

  • How was the backchannel achieved?

    lap-top to WS transceiver? to WS “headend” or something else?

    How many white space channels were used in the system? 1 channel or multiple channel bonded?

    Thanks
    Jordan

  • Thanks for the great questions, Jordan.

    The computer-to-network connection is WiFi, so any off the shelf computer can access the white space network. The WiFi router-to-the-world connection is by Spectrum Bridge White Space radios.

    We used a single white space channel in Claudville, though if capacity demanded it we could have utilized several. The radio we used would not have bonded the channels, but, like cellular, we could have deployed a multi-channel reuse scheme, so multiples of 6MHz not a single bigger channel.

    I have added a simple schematic of what we did to the post. I am also happy to put you in touch with the Spectrum Bridge team for any further, deeper technical discussion.

    • by Shea

    • on November 16, 2009

  • Hi Shea,
    I am the owner of a small WISP struggling to get service into areas where people have no broadband. I’m trying my best, but current technologies are pushed to their limits and we aren’t able to serve nearly as many people with nearly the speed that we want to. I am very interested in getting contact info for the Spectrum Bridge folks to find out if they would be willing to work with us to find a possible solution to our problems. Any info you could share would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Joe

    • by Joe

    • on November 18, 2009

  • Nice looking blog you have here. The template is superb, nice color combination.

  • As long as your service provider is reliable then broadband should be a joy to use but if they are a bunch of hacks, then it will be expensive and not deliver on any of the promises made when you signed on for the service.

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