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Google, Spectrum Bridge sending smart grid data over white space spectrum

Spectrum Bridge, a Florida-based wireless transmission specialist, has teamed with Google to begin channeling data collected by smart meters over the white space spectrum in unused television channels.

The companies are promoting a process for sending energy consumption data from smart meters back to utilities or to consumer electronics, which include home energy management dashboards and smart appliances.

In this latest development, Spectrum Bridge and Google are now targeting white space spectrum to exchange the data at much faster rates than even standard WiFi. Distance and physical obstructions also don’t present as much of a problem when using the white space spectrum.

After the FCC’s transition from analog to digital television broadcasting, several channels of spectrum were not used and the commission — against the wishes of broadcasters — made the excess spectrum available for unlicensed use. Broadcasters claimed the use of white space spectrum for unlicensed devices will interfere with their over-the-air television signals.

Google teamed up with Smart Bridge and Plumas-Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative & Telecommunications — the utility in Plumas-Sierra County, CA — to test the use of white space for sending energy data.

The county in the Sierra Nevada Mountains was chosen for the experiment because it is remote and fairly isolated from wireless coverage. So far, the white space has successfully channeled information between parties, the local utility told “The New York Times.” This is one of several white space tests that Spectrum Bridge has been involved in.

Google is providing its PowerMeter tool, which shows users how much energy they are using in their homes in real time. Spectrum Bridge is already providing free smart phone applications to help users locate white space spectrum in their area.

Other companies are doing the same task without using white space spectrum. Silver Spring Networks and Trilliant are using proprietary networks to do the same job, while competitor SmartSynch taps into public mobile networks provided by carriers like AT&T, and Grid Net wants to use WiMAX networks to do the same job.