White Space Radio Chip

[quote]White space radio, which promises low-power connectivity for the Internet of Things, took a step towards reality today with the arrival of Nuels Iceni chip, the first to implement the Weightless specification.

The transceiver chip, made by Cambridge company Neul, uses white space radio – the unused portions of TV broadcast spectrum – and was announced today by the Weightless Special Interest Group (SIG}.

Wireless is so hot right now that no frequency is safe.


Interesting. Im curious about the expected range. With a 10 year battery life I wouldnt expect a range of more than a few feet. But it does open up some interesting prospects for small device communication. At least they are targeting the ham ban yet.

apparently the range is kms…interesting space to watch but in the end its just another wireless protocol…one of many to come. I believe zigbee hasn’t lived up to its promise. I tried buying zigbee products from 2 vendors but they don’t talk to each, hence zigbee has no benefits yet!

The range is indeed kilometers. I’ve done a little homework on white space, and the kicker is it is unlicensed. The FCC has established some high level “play nice together” rules, but is leaving the details to the private sector. Of course the broadcast TV guys are pissed they have to give up anything even close in frequency to what they’ve already paid a lot for. It does promise decent connection speeds for rural areas that have been ignored by existing ISPs for a lower TCO than existing tech.

For remote environmental sensing/monitoring it has real potential, particularly for near real time monitoring. Here’s a link to a paper I did on the topic:


Check out the last reference about volcano monitoring in [edit] Peru. Extremely remote real time data collection monitored from a comfy chair on a campus in California.


Nice paper – I thought it was a good overview of the ecosystem.

Any idea on the pricing for the Rural Connect?

Also, do you have a link for the ESSA 2010 you referenced?

Well, Peru… First-class meta-data: a step towards a highly reliable wireless seismic network in Peru - CaltechAUTHORS

I never contacted the RuralConnect guy directly, but he had some nice white papers on a pilot project they’ve done using these frequencies.

I’m glad the paper can see the light of day again after finishing the class I did it for.

RuralConnect says “aggregate speeds” of up to 12mbps. Does this mean 12mpbs at the base station?

Others have put the max number in language that suggests 10-ish. Reality seems to be closer to 6-8Mbps on the receiving end. I believe that is synchronous, but am not 100% positive.

The appeal lies more in the fact that these frequencies do a much better job of handling “rough terrain”. That is qualified as none line of site, with forested relief (mountainous). Existing wireless has (mostly) been line of sight, which only works in limited rural areas.

Also, if I don’t need a license, I can make my base station portable and park it anywhere I can plug into a backhaul network. As long as I take measures to ensure I’m not interfering with any local licensed frequencies, I’m free to do so. To see whose got what transmitting where, take a look at this: Enabling abundant wireless connectivity for everyone I’ve seen an advert for a radio that will be smart enough to load up that database and make intelligent decisions about what freq. to use.

@ ransomhall - I assume multiple base stations can work in the same white space channel? Looking at the Google link provided there are some areas around big cities where there are only a few white space channels available. With the long range of these devices it will get crowded real fast.

While not really a “feature” the short range of wi-fi has allowed everyone to have their own routers.

Electronic Design Magazine article on White Space radio:

Interesting read (from what I could decipher :)). I did not know about the weightless standard. The promise of cheap low power long distance wireless will hopefully become a reality soon.

Besides Weightless, there is also Sigfox and On-Ramp Wireless. Standards, the more the merrier… Makes the IoT a “piece of cake”, as Bruce Sterling has commented my slide here.