Weightless finalizes its white spaces networking standard for the internet of things

The Weightless Special Interest Group has put the finishing touches on its wireless radio standard for that uses white spaces spectrum to glue together the internet of things. The SIG finalized the 600-page set of specifications at its Plenary Conference in Cambridge, U.K., on Tuesday.
The final approval is largely a formality, since Weightless SIG members such as Neul, CSR, Cable & Wireless, ARM(s armh) and Google(s goog) have already begun working with the technology. Neul has developed its first commercial Weightless chip, and has launched an experimental smart grid network in Cambridge. Google has begun using the technology in broadband trials in South Africa.
Weightless White Space ChipBut the approval does cement the standard, allowing the SIG’s membership to begin developing products without worrying about technical specs shifting from under them. As defined, version 1.0 of the standard is pretty flexible, allowing it to be used for any kind of machine-to-machine (M2M) communications network, whether it aggregates tiny transmissions from millions of nodes, such as in a smart grid, or utilizes a more traditional high-speed mobile data connection.
The SIG is also making some pretty astonishing claims about the technology’s capabilities: a range of up to 10 km (6.2 miles), allowing for far-flung networks; device battery life for up 10 years, which means monitoring devices could be deployed in the field for long periods of time without maintenance; and chipset costs of less $2, making the barrier of entry for including Weightless in a device extremely low.
Those three specs make up the holy trinity of wide-area M2M communications and would make the technology feasible for all but the cheapest devices in the future internet of things. But it remains to be seen whether Weightless can live up to those promises.
White spaces broadband in the U.K. is taking a different shape than in the U.S. On this side of the Atlantic, white spaces are viewed more as unlicensed broadband wireless technology — sometimes dubbed “Super Wi-Fi”. White spaces are the unused frequencies between TV transmissions, and since the TV airwaves are much more crowded in urban areas, white spaces likely will be most useful for rural broadband in the U.S.
Feature image courtesy of Cillian Storm.