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UPDATE Ofcom UK Finally Approves TV White Space Wireless Broadband

Thursday, February 12th, 2015 (10:42 am) - Score 1,640
wireless_energy_radio_spectrum

The United Kingdom’s national telecoms regulator has today officially given the green light to the commercial use and deployment of so-called White Space broadband technology, which harnesses the gaps in radio spectrum that exist between Digital Terrestrial TV (470MHz to 790MHz) channels in order to deliver wireless Internet connectivity over a wide area.

Ofcom has been testing a variety of different applications for the new technology since 2013, such as remote sensors that can monitor the behaviour of cities, dynamic information for road users, a triple-band WiFi alternative and of course broadband delivery for hard to reach rural communities (here). Similar applications will now be possible as commercial deployments.

But the development of White Space technology hasn’t always been easy, not least because of concerns over interference with existing digital TV services (here). Indeed the gaps in spectrum that White Space tech is designed to harness exist precisely to avoid TV transmissions causing interference with one another.

As a result one of the more challenging hurdles for the solution to manage has been the need to develop a special online database that can keep track of changing channel/spectrum allocations and power levels so as to avoid service drops, interference and other potential performance woes.

white space tv wireless database

Never the less this has now been overcome and the UK is thus on course to become one of the first countries in Europe to provide spectrum specifically for this technology.

Steve Unger, Ofcom’s Acting CEO, said:

This decision helps ensure the UK takes a leading role in the development of innovative new wireless technology. It is also an important step in helping the UK’s wireless infrastructure evolve effectively and efficiently.”

Philip Marnick, Ofcom’s Spectrum Group Director, added:

Ofcom is laying the foundations for industry to use database controlled spectrum sharing to deliver innovative new services to benefit consumers and businesses. Spectrum is an important but limited resource, which is why we’re exploring new ways of unlocking its potential, while balancing the needs of different users.”

Ofcom claims feedback from the trials and stakeholders has indicated that there is a strong interest in the technology and the first commercial applications could emerge by the end of 2015. The regulator is also exploring whether the same solution could be applied in other non-TV spectrum bands.

However it’s worth pointing out that BT’s early 2012 trials of White Space wireless broadband struggled to deliver performance above that of common ADSL2+ broadband technology (here). Admittedly the low frequency TV spectrum may travel further and penetrate well through walls, but it’s not brilliant at delivering high capacity data performance.

The IEEE has also developed somewhat of a rough White Space standard called 802.22, which suggests that it would struggle to achieve even close to superfast broadband (24Mbps+) speeds and is perhaps thus better for helping to reach the smallest of isolated rural communities. But development is on-going and improvements are planned. Ultimately we’ll have to see what solutions the market comes up with.

UPDATE 13th Feb 2015

The Dynamic Spectrum Alliance, a global organization advocating for laws and regulations that will lead to more efficient and effective spectrum utilization, has welcomed the news.

Prof. H Nwana, Executive Director of the DSA, told ISPreview.co.uk:

Ofcom’s release of TV white space regulations is a major milestone to be celebrated. The Dynamic Spectrum Alliance welcomes this move and commends Ofcom for being as innovative, leading and forward-thinking as ever. The Dynamic Spectrum Alliance believes spectrum sharing via dynamic spectrum access must truly start being the norm rather than the exception, and Ofcom’s move will help advance this view.

This should also signal to and spur other regulators to move faster on dynamic spectrum access regulations. We hope Ofcom will move to finalise the regulation and the associated database contracts as soon as possible in order to enable UK citizens to start enjoying the benefits of the diverse applications that dynamic spectrum access can enable.”

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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1 Response
  1. Avatar hmm

    simple it will Fail

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