Gov?t taps unused TV channels for broadband trial run

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[/caption] At a press briefing held at its office in Quezon City, the Information and Communications Technology Office of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-ICTO) said it is high time for the country to tap TVWS as a way to increase broadband connectivity, particularly in rural areas. TVWS refers to unutilized television frequencies in the VHF and UHF bands. In 2010, the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved the use of TVWS for data communications. TVWS is also known in the technology sector as ?Super Wi-Fi?, since it has the reach of an ordinary TV signal and higher penetration capability compared to ordinary Wi-Fi. Louis Casambre, executive director of the ICTO, said during the event that by tapping the unused TV channels to deliver connectivity, the government is ?turning waste into a tool for public service and national development?. Casambre said TVWS has become a wasted national resource because the advancement in TV technology has eliminated the need for ?guard bands? — channels which were intentionally left unused to avoid interference between active channels such as channel 8 between GMA 7 and RPN 9. Casambre pointed out that the deployment of the TVWS broadband initiative is still on its early stages. ?We?re eyeing to pilot this in Visayas and Mindanao by end-2013 and for Luzon in 2014,? he said. After the initial implementation, Casambre said the government will draft the appropriate business model ? whether to assign them to private entities for a fee or adopt a spectrum-sharing scheme for the public. He emphasized, though, that there are also other issues to be considered prior to adoption, including spectrum availability, licensing, usage fee, interference, and database ownership and enforcement. ?This will not compete with the telcos. In fact, they can participate in the trials,? Casambre said. ?One scheme that we?re looking at is to give a TV frequency to a telco for free but that telco should provide its connectivity service at a lesser price.? Currently, Casambre said only 47 percent of cities and municipalities have broadband access (fixed or wireless) which is more often than not limited to the immediate vicinity of the center. The ICTO chief said the technology is an ideal wireless data delivery medium for the Philippines, with its long distance propagation characteristics and the ability of its signals to travel over water and through thick foliage. Casambre can also be utilized to support government initiatives requiring data connectivity such as sensors used by project Noah for disaster mitigation, thin clients for education currently being developed by ICTO for DepEd through the Cloud Top project, as well as for tele-health initiatives being done by the UP TeleHealth Center. According to the ICTO, the pilot tests for broadband connectivity using TVWS will be conducted in selected remote and unserved public schools in Bohol province. The pilot run will also include providing connectivity to an Ecofish project in Talibon and Tubigon, Bohol for reef and fishing vessel monitoring. Microsoft Philippines, one of the companies backing the adoption of the technology, said the capital cost required to put up a TVWS or SuperWi-Fi is just one-tenth of the amount of a similar Wi-Fi infrastructure. ?Manufacturers are on now the verge of creating SuperWi-Fi devices,? said Microsoft Philippines national technology officer Dondi Mapa. In the future, ordinary sets TV could access SuperWi-Fi since the connection basically runs on TV channels, its proponents said. ]]>

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