Ofcom, the UK telecoms regulator, gave its blessing for gaps in TV frequency bands – so-called white spaces – “to offer new wireless applications to benefit consumers and businesses”.
The decision follows a series of successful trials around the UK, which include fixed incumbent BT and computing giant Microsoft, and “extensive consultation with stakeholders”.
Other trials have involved using internet access for ships and boats in the Orkney Islands, wireless video streaming of animals at ZSL London Zoo, new M2M networks for flood defence in Oxfordshire, and Wi-Fi-like services at the University of Strathclyde.
The white space spectrum, adds Ofcom, is appealing for industry because it can travel longer distances and more easily through walls than the bands mainly used by other wireless technologies, such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.
The regulator said unused parts of the 470-790MHz frequency band would be available for access by a new wireless technology: white space devices.
Aside from Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT), white spaces will be shared with existing uses, including local TV and Programme Making and Special Events (PMSE). PMSE includes wireless microphone users.
The sharing will take place dynamically, controlled by databases which will hold information on the location of DTT and PMSE users and white space devices. The information will be used, said Ofcom, to allow white space devices access to the spectrum band, but only to the extent that this does not cause harmful interference to existing users of the spectrum.
Ofcom aims to complete implementation of its decisions so the new technology can be deployed by end-2015.