UK telecoms watchdog Ofcom announced plans for a trial of white space technology, a programme it said is “among the first of its kind in Europe”.
White space uses gaps in the radio spectrum between assigned frequency bands to provide wireless services. In this case, the bands involved have been reserved for digital TV broadcasts and wireless microphones.
The regulator said that it can be used to enable broadband access for rural communities, “Wi-Fi-like” services, or new machine-to-machine applications.
The white space frequencies available are in low bands, making them especially suited to providing services over large distances – for example to remote locations currently underserved by existing technologies.
Ofcom is inviting the industry to take part in the pilot, which is scheduled for the third quarter of 2013. Locations will be chosen once the trial participants are on-board.
It also noted that following a successful completion of the programme, “Ofcom anticipates that the technology could be fully rolled out during 2014, enabling the use of white space devices across the country”.
Issues to be explored include the interoperation of white space devices, white space databases, and the processes to mitigate against interference to current spectrum users.
Under the current plans, a white space device will not be able to start transmitting until it gets clearance from a database qualified by Ofcom and listed on a dedicated Ofcom website. This will provide updated information on where the white spaces are and the power levels available to avoid interference.
According to reports last year, incumbent fixed line operator BT is interested in white space technology, with other active players including broadcaster BBC and Microsoft.