UK's Ofcom Plans to Use TV White Spaces for Enhanced Wi-Fi Service

By Ashok Bindra September 02, 2011

UK’s independent regulatory agency Ofcom has proposed plans for using TV white spaces for running enhanced Wi-Fi service in the UK, the first country in Europe to do so. The technology uses signals that can travel large distances and easily through walls. This makes it suitable for a wide range of new consumer applications that could include rural broadband and Wi-Fi with up to twice the range of today’s technology, said the regulator.

According to Ofcom, the technology works by searching for unused areas of the airwaves or gaps called ‘White Spaces’ that exist in bands that have been reserved for TV broadcasts. These White Spaces are used to transmit and receive wireless signals. Recycling airwaves – or “spectrum” – in this way is a highly efficient use of what is a very limited resource, said Ofcom.

Experts say that white spaces offer significant capacity to help alleviate pressures on wireless networks. To put the scale of this capacity into perspective, Ofcom expects the amount of white space to be comparable to spectrum that is currently available for 3G services, and significantly more in some locations.

Compared with other forms of wireless technology, such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, White Space devices are being designed to use lower frequencies that have traditionally been reserved for TV.

In a statement, Ed Richards, Ofcom chief executive, said, “At an early stage Ofcom identified the potential of White Spaces, which are currently lying vacant all around us. Within Europe, we have been leading the way to try to harness this capacity without causing harmful interference to existing users of the spectrum. The solution we have devised creates the opportunity to maximize the efficient use of spectrum and open the door to the development of a new and exciting range of consumer and business applications.”

Target applications for White Space technology includes enhanced Wi-Fi, rural broadband, and machine-to-machine communications. The majority of current Wi-Fi devices operate in spectrum at 2.4 GHz. Thanks to lower frequency of TV White Spaces (typically between 470 and 790 MHz), White Spaces could provide new capacity, while boosting the range of devices, potentially enabling Wi-Fi networks that stretch across towns and cities.

According to Ofcom, it has decided to make White Space devices license exempt. This means that they will be allowed to operate without the need for an Ofcom license on the condition that they do not cause harmful interference to existing users of the spectrum. Ofcom expects that White Space technology could be launched in the UK in 2013.

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO West 2011, taking place Sept. 13-15, 2011, in Austin, Texas. ITEXPO offers an educational program to help corporate decision makers select the right IP-based voice, video, fax and unified communications solutions to improve their operations. It's also where service providers learn how to profitably roll out the services their subscribers are clamoring for – and where resellers can learn about new growth opportunities. To register, click here.


Ashok Bindra is a veteran writer and editor with more than 25 years of editorial experience covering RF/wireless technologies, semiconductors and power electronics. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Rich Steeves

TechZone360 Contributor

SHARE THIS ARTICLE
Related Articles

Why Blockchain Could Be a Gamechanger

By: Paula Bernier    1/22/2018

Blockchain has become closely associated with the controversial topic of cryptocurrency. And that's fine because blockchain is an enabling technology …

Read More

Consumer Privacy in the Digital Era: Three Trends to Watch

By: Special Guest    1/18/2018

Digital advertising has exploded in recent years, with the latest eMarketer data forecasting $83 billion in revenue this year and continued growth on …

Read More

CES 2018: Terabit Fiber - Closer Than We Think

By: Doug Mohney    1/17/2018

One of the biggest challenges for 5G and last mile 10 Gig deployments is not raw data speeds, but middle mile and core networks. The wireless industry…

Read More

10 Benefits of Drone-Based Asset Inspections

By: Frank Segarra    1/15/2018

Although a new and emerging technology, (which is still evolving), in early 2018, most companies are not aware of the possible benefits they can achie…

Read More

VR Could Change Entertainment Forever

By: Special Guest    1/11/2018

VR could change everything from how we play video games to how we interact with our friends and family. VR has the power to change how we consume all …

Read More