White space moves a step closer

White space moves a step closer

The launch of Europe's first mobile devices that utilise white space has moved a step closer as Ofcom announced its plans for a framework that would allow operators to use the technology in the UK.

White spaces exist in between frequency bands that were previously solely reserved for TV broadcasting. Utilising the white spaces will allow smartphones and tablets to transmit and receive wireless signals for applications such as broadband access for rural communities or innovative 'machine-to-machine' networks.

Ed Richards, Ofcom chief executive, said: "From rural broadband to enhanced Wi-Fi, white space technology offers significant opportunities for innovation and enterprise in the UK.

"It also represents a fundamentally different approach to using spectrum by searching and recycling unused gaps in the airwaves."

Ofcom hopes that the release of white spaces will help cope with a possible "capacity crunch", as businesses and professionals continue to demand more and more bandwidth across their various devices.

The white spaces will have a number of benefits over traditional wireless technologies, such as regular Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, as it will be able to travel larger distances and easily through walls due to the lower frequencies used. This fact should make them more reliable and efficient for workers on the move.

White spaces could provide new and enhanced Wi-Fi capacity, enabling networks that stretch across towns and cities.

Ofcom's proposed framework would ensure that devices using the spectrum would not interfere with existing services provided by operators.

The watchdog has suggested that white space devices could be allowed to operate without the need for a licence, which would require the creation of new legislation.

"Under Ofcom's proposals, a white space device will not be able to start transmitting until getting clearance from an online database qualified by Ofcom. This database will provide updated information on where the white spaces are and the power level that devices would need to be restricted to if they wanted to use them," it revealed.

The closing date for responses to the watchdog's consultation is January 10th 2013, with feedback set to be used to finalise the proposal, which will include notifying the European Commission of its proposed technical regulations for white space devices.