The new IEEE 802.22 standard has been published and will finally allow manufacturers to start producing standardized devices that will use the white space vacated by analog TVs over two years ago. The standards will provide networking in areas over a 62 mile radius at speeds of up to 22Mbps.
In theory, that means as few as 307 devices could cover the entire United States. (In reality, it would likely take many more than that.)
The use of white space was mired in debate for years, even after television stations were no longer using the analog channels once they’d switched to digital. The frequencies now available, from 54MHz to 698MHz, can maintain signal over vast distances, so a single device may provide an incredibly large coverage area.
According to the new IEEE standard, 802.22-capable equipment will broadcast WRANs (wireless regional area networks) that can deliver signal to around 62 miles away at rates of up to 22Mbps. In the context of the push for gigabit fiber, 22Mbps doesn't seem that fast—and remember, that's a theoretical maximum speed.
However, 802.22 will have a huge impact on areas without access: the standard would make it very easy to blanket rural areas in wireless broadband and could also see use in developing countries.