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Ofcom weighs up TV white space options

Showing exactly where the value is in wireless spectrum in the UK at least, national broadcast regulator Ofcom has revealed plans to pilot technology to exploit so-called ‘white space’ frequency bands.

Said to be among the first of its kind in Europe, the plan centres on frequency bands that have been reserved for digital terrestrial TV (DTT) broadcasting and wireless microphones. Ofcom added that the use of these white spaces will allow devices to transmit and receive wireless signals for applications such as broadband access for rural communities, Wi-Fi-like services or machine-to-machine (M2M) networks.

Ofcom is inviting industry to take part in the pilot, which is intended to take place in the autumn. The locations for the trial will be chosen once trial participants have been identified. Under the terms of its plans, Ofcom said that a TV white space device will not be able to start transmitting until it gets clearance from a database qualified by Ofcom and listed on a dedicated Ofcom website. This database will provide updated information on where the TV white spaces are and the power level that devices would need to be restricted to if they wanted to use them. It says the regulator will help ensure that there is no undue interference with the 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,” explained Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards. “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.”

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