Internet technology

Ofcom: White space roll-out expected by 2014

Jennifer Scott

A trial of white space technology is set to take place in the UK, giving another wireless option for users to connect to the internet.

Telecoms regulator Ofcom announced the pilot scheme will run in the autumn of 2013 and is calling for industry volunteers to take part.

White spaces are the gaps that exist between frequency bands, which have previously been used for digital television and wireless microphones. However, Ofcom hopes the trial will open up more uses for the spectrum, including broadband for rural areas, new Wi-Fi services and M2M networks.

The trial will test the interoperability of white space devices, white space databases and ways to ensure no interference with other spectrum users.

“Ofcom is preparing for a future where consumers’ demand for data services will experience huge growth,” said Ed Richards, CEO of Ofcom. “This will be fuelled by smartphones, tablets and other new wireless applications.

If we run out of spectrum, mobile networks and broadband won’t work. That is unacceptable

Neelie Kroes, EC vice-president for the digital agenda

“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.”

The pilot follows a consultation from Ofcom, launched in November 2012, which planned to outline the remit of a pilot and gain approval from the European Union for the new use of spectrum.

The European Commission broadly supports the opening up of white space technology, and the EC vice-president for the digital agenda, Neelie Kroes, has called for operators to get on board with sharing the extra spectrum.

“Radio spectrum is economic oxygen – it is used by every single person and business,” she said. “If we run out of spectrum, mobile networks and broadband won’t work. That is unacceptable. We must maximise this scarce resource by reusing it and creating a single market out of it.”  


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