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Ofcom Moots UK White Space Wireless Broadband Services

Posted: 17th Nov, 2009 By: MarkJ
Ofcom has launched a new "discussion document" today to help it explore the potential of a new technology that could wirelessly link up different devices and offer enhanced broadband access in rural areas. The tech works by searching for unoccupied radio waves (called "white spaces") between TV channels to transmit and receive wireless broadband signals.

Compared with other forms of wireless, such as Wi-Fi , white-space devices use lower frequencies that have traditionally been reserved for TV. Signals at these frequencies travel further and more easily through walls. Although at least three years away, it could result in improved Mobile Broadband access for rural areas.

Professor William Webb, Head of Research and Development at Ofcom, said:

"White space devices have the potential to enable a vast range of new and innovative applications - from broadband access for rural communities, to innovative personal consumer applications - each benefiting from improved signal reliability, capacity, and range offered by unused TV frequencies.

However, this technology remains largely unproven and a significant amount of work needs to be done before these claims can be tested. The purpose of this discussion document is to further the thinking that is taking place around the world on geolocation and speed the development of possible solutions."

White space devices must now prove they can operate without interfering with TV broadcasts and other wireless technologies that share these frequencies, such as wireless microphones. This is a very difficult thing to do but is by no means impossible.

A promising solution is for devices to do this is by consulting a "geolocation database" that contains live information about which frequencies are free to use at their current location. Still, we're a long way from having a workable solution, so mark this up as mere curiosity for now.
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