UK telecoms regulator Ofcom published details of a framework to allow the first consumer “white space” devices to be launched in the UK towards the end of 2013.
White spaces are gaps between radio spectrum frequency bands reserved for television broadcasting.
Ofcom’s proposed framework is designed to ensure devices do not interfere with existing licensed spectrum users including digital terrestrial television (DTT) and wireless microphone users.
In addition, white space devices will not be able to start transmitting until they are cleared by an online database qualified by Ofcom, which includes information on the location of white spaces and power level restrictions.
The proposal also includes allowing white space devices to operate without the need for a licence.
Due to the low frequencies – between 470 MHz and 790 MHz – wireless signal using white spaces will be able to travel longer distances and through building walls, unlike regular Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.
Potential uses of the white spaces are broadband access in rural communities, widespread Wi-Fi networks in towns and M2M applications such as smart meters.
With spectrum a limited resource, Ofcom said white space devices “offer a creative and efficient way to use spectrum that would otherwise lay fallow”.
Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards said white space technology “offers significant opportunities for innovation and enterprise in the UK”, adding that it represents a ”fundamentally different approach” to using spectrum with the recycling of gaps in airwaves.
“This could prove critical in averting a global spectrum capacity crunch, as consumers demand more bandwidth over different devices,” he said.
The closing date for the consultation on the proposals is 10 January 2013. Ofcom will then notify the European Commission of its proposed technical regulations, which will be followed by a three month standstill period in which other member states will be informed and invited to provide feedback on the proposals.