How Television White Space Might Be A Boon to Mobile Banking

November 26, 2014         By: Steven Anderson

Most anyone out there who’s paying an Internet bill these days has a handle on how limited, overall, the commodity is.

Whether working within a substantial limit like Comcast or the like, enjoying one of the last few unlimited plans left out there, or operating within the narrow band of a mobile or satellite connection, Internet bandwidth can be a very difficult thing to work with.

It only gets worse when it’s considered just how many different uses there are for broadband, and mobile payments is just one of a host. But a comparatively new development in what’s known as television white space could have a huge impact on not only mobile banking, but on Internet users in general.

Television white space, for those not already familiar, refers to the unused gaps in the spaces between television channels in the UHF spectrum.

Those who remember the old days of dial televisions—televisions with manual channel dials—are very much familiar, as television white space might well be described as the big static-y field between channel 8 and 25, or whatever channels are valid in your area.

In some places, that’s a lot of spectrum, and thus, a lot of potential bandwidth. Plus, we all know that UHF signals have an impressive reach, and go easily through things like trees and mountains; anyone who ever got a television signal while out in the woods is already quite familiar with this aspect of the television signal.

But what’s not commonly known is that this spectrum can be put to work as as a connection for broadband access.

While some are interpreting this as a great new advance for the rural community—finally, a way to bring high-quality broadband access to places where it would be prohibitively expensive to run cable or anything else—it’s got great potential for just about everywhere else, too.

Not long ago, we heard about the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) channel being put to work in India as a way to bring mobile banking to regular feature phones as opposed to requiring smartphones with native apps and Internet connectivity. While this was quite the advancement, it’s enough to make some wonder if, maybe, television white space may not have a hand in providing more than a general connection to the rural populace, but also being used in urban areas, potentially for mobile banking the way the USSD did.

Given that companies like Carlson Wireless are currently bringing out wireless access with up to 16 Mb/s in connectivity, that’s a lot of potential bandwidth that could be flowing into devices, and might well take some of the strain off the system, particularly when it comes to mobile broadband.

Mobile is generally the hardest-hit when it comes to bandwidth limits, and being able to route the bandwidth involved in television white spaces into play for mobile means there might well be, ultimately, a whole lot more bandwidth available for purposes like mobile banking. There might ultimately be a kind of channel involved specifically for banks to use; when you’re talking 16 megabyte download speeds to several houses, you’re likely talking sufficient bandwidth to offer a direct connection to any bank.

Television white space broadband is still a comparatively new technology, and as such, its ramifications for the future will take some time to coalesce.