Backhauling in TV White Spaces

I attended an educating and enlightening talk at IISC, Bangalore on July 2, 2013 by Dr. Narayan Manydam about Backhauling in TV White Spaces. Dr. Manydam is currently the Faculty Scholar at Rutgers University. Currently, he also serves as Associate Director at WINLAB, Rutgers University. The topic was timely, and he presented the material on the new innovations in a way that everyone could understand. The talk was US centric, but the technicalities of the topic can be applied worldwide.

Let me introduce you about the topic:

Are you aware of the fact that ample number of television channels which were given to TV broadcasters is not utilized? These unutilized television channels called White Space hold a rich potential for expanding broadband capacity and can provide backhaul network for rural areas and areas with no pre-existing wired infrastructure. The term Backhaul refers to transmission of network data over an alternative wireless route when normal route is unavailable or over-taxed.

Dr. Manydam proposed a system using fixed towers and directional antennas which would provide backhaul and distribution for internet access in places where it is needed and is presently not available. In this scenario, Backhaul network is an alternative to laying optical fiber, and utilizing TV towers using white spaces.

Methodology used:

He proposed a method of mapping available TV white space spectrum in the UHF channels for fixed TV Band Devices to the geography of a densely populated place. He mapped the allowed channels to the geography of New Jersey dividing the state into a grid of 5 miles × 5 miles square cells. To determine whether TV white spaces can be used for Backhaul we need to compare achievable capacity for each link with demand for service in each square cell. He calculated the achievable capacity based on the available bandwidth and spectrum efficiency achieved by these TV white space transmissions. Later, his team did a survey on internet traffic demand in each location of New Jersey. They used this information to estimate a futuristic demand taking into consideration two parameters, usage per household and simultaneous active users. A comparison of achievable rates and demand per cell led to the findings on the feasibility of proposed backhaul system. If the achievable capacity is less than demand in a given cell, fiber would be needed. Otherwise, radio towers and TV white spaces could be used to transfer traffic between neighbouring cells. Especially in areas where there is no infrastructure, he made use of the white space between a network of TV towers to carry the traffic generated, back to the closest place where there is some kind of access to fiber or broadband internet. Therefore, all the areas remotely located without having access to wired infrastructure do have ample TV white space capacity making wireless backhauling a viable proposition.

Listening to this talk made me think that the amazing innovation done by Dr. Manydam is well suited for a densely populated country like India, and could pave way to resolve our data traffic problems. Anyways, Thanks to Dr. Manydam for this delightful insight.

For more details refer Dr. Manydam’s paper on the same topic via the link below:


Author, Anushya Jacob, is a senior patent engineer at IP ASTRA