TV Whitespace: technical challenges, regulatory issues, and a new testbed in Wilmington

SpeakerJohn Chapin
Organization MIT Research Laboratory of Electronics - TV Band Service LLC
LocationRoom 1230, Engineering Building II
DateDecember 14, 2009 3:00 PM

TV whitespace refers to use of locally free television broadcast channels for data communications. It is the most prominent current example of Cognitive Radio, which is the exploitation of environmental awareness by wireless communications systems. The Federal Communications Commission issued a ruling in November 2008 allowing unlicensed TV whitespace devices. The first end-user trial of a TV whitespace system lit up in Claudville, VA in October 2009. Use of TV whitespace promises to reduce the cost and increase the coverage of several types of applications. These include broadband Internet access in underserved rural areas, and distributed sensing and control systems such as those for smart electric grids and environmental management.

TV whitespace devices must avoid causing interference to television receivers and other protected users of the TV band, which creates a range of interesting and challenging technical problems. This talk surveys the key problems and some solutions currently proposed or being tested. I also cover the contentious regulatory issues that have developed around the deployment of these systems. Finally, I describe the structure and goals of a TV whitespace testbed being established in Wilmington, NC by TV Band Service LLC. The new testbed is seeking participation, both by researchers working on radio systems and by researchers focusing on applications that may be enabled by the new communications technology.

John Chapin is a visiting scientist in the Claude E. Shannon Communication and Network Group at the Research Laboratory of Electronics of MIT, and a consultant to TV Band Service LLC. He spent 9 years in technical leadership roles at Vanu, Inc., a provider of SDR based cellular radio access networks. His work there on SDR and cognitive radio earned multiple awards including IEEE DYSPAN best paper, SDR Forum best paper, and SDR Forum Industry Achievement Award. Prior to Vanu he was on the faculty of the EECS department of MIT, where his research earned the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). He served as chairman of the SDR Forum from 2007 to 2009. He earned the Ph.D. degree in Computer Science from Stanford University in 1997.

Following the seminar, Dr. Chapin will be available for more discussions with those who have an interest in becoming involved with the Wilmington testbed. The ECE conference room, 3110 EBII, has been reserved for these discussions.
Recorded Presentation can be found here:

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