Ofcom urges pilot of ‘white spaces’

Ofcom urges pilot of ‘white spaces’

Ofcom has announced plans that will see the pilot of innovative 'white space' technology in the UK, which will hopefully be used to meet the demand for data in the country.

The technology uses gaps in the radio spectrum which exist in between frequency bands, which could allow devices to transmit and receive wireless signals for applications such as broadband access for rural communities, Wi-Fi services or machine-to-machine networks.

The pilot of white spaces will take place this autumn and the watchdog believes that it could be rolled out nationwide during 2014.

As well as making use of these gaps in the radio spectrum to meet data demand in the UK, Ofcom is also preparing airwaves for the implementation of the next generation of high-speed data services, which have been dubbed '5G'.

The planning stage for the next generation technology is already in the offing following the completion of the protracted 4G auction, which took place earlier this year.

Ed Richards, Ofcom chief executive, said: "Ofcom is preparing for a future where consumers' demand for data services will experience huge growth. This will be fuelled by smartphones, tablets and other new wireless applications.

"White space technology is one creative way that this demand can be met. We are aiming to facilitate this important innovation by working closely with industry."

The white spaces that will be used in the pilot exist between the airwaves reserved for digital terrestrial tv broadcasting, which means they will be able to travel longer distances and more easily through walls, making them perfect for mobile broadband.

Despite the pilot scheme, spectrum itself is still a limited resource and the rise in use of smartphones, tablets and other wireless devices is increasing the data demand rapidly.

White space devices, should they be a success, could offer a creative and efficient way to use spectrum that would otherwise lie fallow, according to the watchdog.