Broadband cable

White space broadband is set to be the future

Unused parts of the radio spectrum could aid improvements in rural broadband use without needing specific operating licences.

Communicators regulator Ofcom has released new proposals for the launch of Europe’s first consumer “white space” devices to move a step closer.

The regulator will be consulting on new proposals set to utilise the gaps within the radio spectrum to help improve WiFi and rural broadband, and this includes machine-to-machine communication.

Using “white space”, a frequency space that has been so-far used only for television broadcasting, allows for new devices to transmit and receive wireless signals.

These low-frequency radiowaves also will be able to travel over large distances, easily through walls – emulating current TV signals.

“White space technology offers significant opportunities for innovation and enterprise in the UK,” said Ofcom’s chief executive, Ed Richards.

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

“This could prove critical in averting a global spectrum capacity crunch, as consumers demand more bandwidth over different devices.”

The regulator is making plans for a new framework which is set to make sure that devices do not interfere with existing products, notably wireless microphones.

The regulator needs new legislation to be passed which will allow new technology to search and locate “white space”, instead of licensing for specific frequencies.

Responses to the consultation must be submitted by January 2013; Ofcom will then consult with the European Commission.

The regulator hopes to launch white space technologies in the UK by the end of the year.

BT and Microsoft have already been testing white space systems in Scotland, Cambridge, Cornwall and Ipswich.

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