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UPDATE Ofcom Clear Manually Configured White Space Wireless Kit

Friday, September 25th, 2015 (10:44 am) - Score 684

Remember White Space technology? In case you’ve forgotten, it allows the gaps in radio spectrum that exist between Digital Terrestrial TV (470MHz to 790MHz) channels to be harnessed and used for broadband or other communication services. Sadly developers have struggled to meet Ofcom’s licensing requirements, so the regulator has had to cut a few corners.

The national telecoms regulator officially approved White Space technology for use in the United Kingdom, on a licence-exempt basis, all the way back in February 2015 (here), but so far we’ve not seen much in the way of actual products or services. In fact, outside of the earlier pilots, there’s been virtually nothing at all.

In fairness the technology is inherently difficult to develop, not least because in order to avoid causing interference with television signals (channels and frequency assignments are often being moved around by broadcasters) the technology has to automatically keep track of any changes by pinging to a central online database and then updating itself. Easier said than done. The current hardware is also quite expensive.

white space tv wireless database

Today Ofcom acknowledged that its original expectation, which forecast that the first commercial White Space solutions could surface by the end of 2015, might be hard to reach because many of the planned systems do not currently meet their requirements for licence exemption and require manual configuration by the user (details).

The regulator’s solution is thus to grant approval for Manually Configured White Space Devices (MCWSD) to be “licensed on a transitional basis“, while the equipment is still being developed.

Ofcom hopes to have their new White Space licensing regime in place for around the beginning of 2016 (an annual licence fee of £1,500 will apply) and they then intend to review whether a licensing regime is still required by the end of 2018. In the meantime the wait to see what sort of White Space services emerge goes on.

UPDATE 21st Dec 2015

It’s today been confirmed that the new regulations will come into effect on 31st December 2015 (here).

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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.
Leave a Comment
3 Responses
  1. Steve Jones says:

    Why do I have such a bad, bad feeling about all this…

  2. dave says:

    If people could get 10Mbps using this with a 200GB data allowance then it would be very successful if the price was cheap. If the price is higher than regular broadband it will only be successful for very rural areas with no FTTC/Cable.

  3. DigitalPitchfork says:

    Potentially, TVWS is an interesting wireless technology, primarily because of its non-line of sight capabilities, which could offer a challenge to satellite based broadband services in the more remote parts of the UK (the final 1-2%). However, the base station and CPE (customer premise equipment) costs are currently eye-wateringly expensive. For anybody interested in the technology, it is worthwhile having a look at the Carlson Wireless website (http://www.carlsonwireless.com/) as a starting point.

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