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Cable Technology Feature Article

June 17, 2014

Singapore to Issue TV White Spaces Regulations

By Gary Kim, Contributing Editor

The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (News - Alert) plans to announce in November 2014 rules pertaining to the use of  TV White Spaces spectrum.

The regulations will make available 180 MHz of spectrum for communications applications. By way of comparison, that is about double the amount of spectrum allocated for 2.4-GHz Wi-Fi.

Assuming use of 5-MHz channels, each channel could support perhaps 40 to 50 Mbps speeds. There would be about 36 channels available for TV White Spaces. If most of the bandwidth were allocated for downstream services (80 percent), then some 28 downstream channels might be available.

If so, using 5-MHz channels, downstream bandwidth collectively could reach 1.1 to 1.4 Gbps, to illustrate how much capacity TV White Spaces would add.

The new rules obviously will have to create technical standards for TVWS equipment, create channel plans and specify how equipment communicates with the geo-location databases used to allocate access.

The regulations also will provide business certainty to companies who intend to offer services over TVWS.

Machine-to-machine communications, smart metering, outdoor environment and security monitoring services are among the services the Singapore regulator expects will be used over the TV White Spaces network.

Note that traditional consumer Internet access is not on that list of suggested or anticipated applications. Singapore already has well-developed fixed access, mobile Internet access and Wi-Fi networks.

The city-state has five competing fixed network ISPs, with bandwidth costs originally costing between SN$0.16 per Mbps to SN$0.40/Mbps for the highest-bandwidth plans. But that is likely to change, as challenger MyRepublic is offering gigabit access at prices an order of magnitude less than the other ISPs have been selling.

MyRepublic, in fact, is attacking the Singapore market with a Google (News - Alert) Fiber pricing model.

Mobile penetration is about 148 percent in Singapore.

So the big question is, what business models and apps will be characteristic of TV White Spaces, which elsewhere have been seen as “consumer Internet access.”

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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