Ofcom has announced that it has moved "a step closer”
towards the launch of consumer ‘white space’ devices to allow the technology to
be used in the UK.
White space devices use gaps in the radio spectrum, aptly
named ‘white space’ "which exist in between frequency bands that have been
reserved for TV broadcasting”. This will allow devices to use the gaps to
transmit and receive Wi-Fi signals for use as broadband access for rural
communities and other technologies.
White space technology has the ability to travel longer
distances and can transmit easily through walls because of the lower
frequencies used. Whilst 4G from EE has already rolled out, with mixed reviews,
white space devices "offer a creative and efficient way to use spectrum that
would otherwise lay fallow”.
Ed Richards, Ofcom Chief Executive, said: "From rural
broadband to enhanced Wi-Fi, white space technology offers significant
opportunities for innovation and enterprise in the UK.
"It also represents a fundamentally different approach to
using spectrum by searching and recycling unused gaps in the airwaves. This
could prove critical in averting a global spectrum capacity crunch, as
consumers demand more bandwidth over different devices.”
The framework, designed by Ofcom,
is expected to ensure that 4G doesn’t affect other devices such as microphones
and hearing aids. Whilst the auction for the rest of the 4G spectrum is soon to
be held for network carriers, it’s thought that white space usage will be
allowed to operate unlicensed.
However, the regulators point out that new legislation will
be needed to allow this and has today published an example of how this might
White space has the potential to offer enhanced broadband, "potentially
enabling Wi-Fi networks that stretch across towns and cities”; the provision of
rural broadband and machine-to-machine communications.Ofcom has published a consultation on the matter with the final closing date for responses from interested parties
on 10th January 2013. Potentially, the technology could be released
as early as late next year.