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Ofcom UK Moot Manually Configured White Space Wireless Kit

Friday, February 27th, 2015 (11:00 am) - Score 468

The UK telecoms regulator is considering granting “transitional” approval to a number of manually configured devices that harness the new White Space technology, which uses the gaps in radio spectrum between digital TV (UHF 470MHz to 790MHz) channels in order to deliver wireless broadband or other communication services over a wide area.

Ofcom only this month approved the use of White Space (IEEE 802.22) technology (here), although one caveat was that any such hardware would need to employ a special online database. This approach is necessary in order to keep track of any changes in the related radio spectrum and power levels, which is needed to avoid service drops, interference or other potential performance woes (i.e. conflicts with TV transmissions).

But today’s new consultation reveals that many of the early White Space devices do not currently meet the requirements in order to attain their licence exempt status (i.e. they require manual configuration by the user) and so the regulator is pondering whether to license related kit on a “transitional basis“. Ofcom calls these MCWSD (Manually Configured White Space Devices).

Ofcoms Statement

Given the increased risk of harmful interference that may arise from the use of MCWSDs, we consider that a licence with specific non-technical conditions would need to be put in place in order to mitigate the risks.

The increased probability of harmful interference comes from the greater possibility that incorrect device parameters may be entered by the installer of the MCWSD, both when it is first installed and subsequently if it is moved and installed in a different location.

We have identified possible options for licence requirements which we consider would be necessary and proportionate to mitigate the increased risk of harmful interference.

The consultation closes on 10th April 2015 and we wouldn’t be surprised if some concern was expressed about the theoretical risk to TV transmissions, although in practical terms it’s such a new and limited use technology that right now it probably won’t cause too much of an issue. Ultimately Ofcom would expect all such kit to adopt the database approach.

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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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