Ofcom White Space Trial To Begin This Autumn


Ofcom white space trial to test problems ahead of potential 2014 rollout

Ofcom has announced plans for a pilot of white space technology in the UK this autumn, with a view to a full roll out across the country during 2014. Industry will be invited to take part in the pilot with locations determined once trial participants have been identified.

White space technology shares spectrum with TV and radio. In any location, white space systems use the frequencies which are empty locally, making more efficient use of the spectrum and making more available for data.

Unlike other wireless technologies such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, signals from white space devices will be able to travel longer distances and more easily through walls because they use frequencies at the lower end of the spectrum.

Ofcom white space trial

Ofcom LogoOfcom’s test will use the 700MHz frequencies reserved for digital terrestrial television (DTT) and wireless microphones and could be used for applications such as rural broadband, wireless Internet or even M2M networks.

Because the available spectrum varies across the country, participants will not be able to start transmitting until they receives clearance from  Ofcom, which will maintain a database of information on where the white spaces are and the power level that devices would need to be restricted to if they want to use them. This will ensure that there is no interference with existing spectrum users.

“Ofcom is preparing for a future where consumers’ demand for data services will experience huge growth. This will be fuelled by smartphones, tablets and other new wireless applications,” said Ed Richards, Ofcom Chief Executive. “White space technology is one creative way that this demand can be met. We are aiming to facilitate this important innovation by working closely with industry.”

Ofcom says that as spectrum is a finite resource, white space technology provides a creative and efficient way to make the best of it. It launched a consultation into its use last year and has also outlined plans to free up and auction spectrum in the 700MHz band for so called ‘5G’ services.

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