Ofcom Publish Proposals for White Space Devices

News Article - Friday, 23 November 2012 10:46

By: Kerry Butters Category: Connectivity

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 work.

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.

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