The first commercial white spaces network has launched, and the logical question will be “how important” white spaces might be, as a factor in the broadband market. In the initial deployments in Wilmington, NC, security camera feeds will be backhauled to a monitoring center, and other sample applications are expected later.

Some hope white spaces could be used to enable new broadband access networks in rural and other areas. Whether that is a realistic hope is the issue, even though the technique could be used by rural area service providers to build new fixed location wireless access networks without the need to purchase spectrum.

It isn’t that the technology is questionable, so much as a question of whether end users will find the value and retail prices a satisfactory substitute for access they already can buy from other providers.

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Over the years, many other technologies and approaches have been touted as enablers of new broadband access networks. Municipal Wi-Fi, even Wi-Fi hotspots and power line technologies, as well as a variety of other wireless network technologies, have been seen as potential enablers.

None of those have created sizable or sustainable businesses, in part because there is not much of an unsatisfied need in consumer or business markets.

Still, the White Space Alliance obviously hopes a big new business can be created for devices, gear and services to support white spaces networks, perhaps in many international markets.

Also, the Wi-Fi Alliance doesn’t like the term “Super Wi-Fi” to describe “white spaces” networks that use unlicensed spectrum in the broadcast TV bands to provide broadband access.

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