Ofcom consults on white spaces coexistence

UK regulator Ofcom has published a consultation on how TV ‘white space’ devices – technologies which exploit gaps in radio spectrum that sit between frequency bands – can coexist with services in and adjacent to 470 MHz to 790 MHz (the UHF TV band). Use of these white spaces allows devices to transmit and receive wireless signals for applications such as broadband access for rural communities or innovative ‘machine-to-machine’ networks.

The consultation sets out Ofcom’s proposals for calculating white space availability in the UK in a way that ensures these devices can coexist with other spectrum users. This is part of the implementation by Ofcom of the regulatory framework for TV white spaces.

The closing date for the consultation is November 15th 2013.

As part of the regulatory framework, Ofcom launched an initial consultation on white space devices in November 2012, with Chief Executive Ed Richards stating: “From rural broadband to enhanced Wi-Fi, white space technology offers significant opportunities for innovation and enterprise in the UK. 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.”

In April 2013 Ofcom unveiled plans for a white space technology pilot ‘in the UK. Ofcom is inviting industry to take part in the pilot, which is intended to take place in the autumn. The locations for the trial will be chosen once trial participants have been identified. Following a successful completion of the pilot, Ofcom anticipates that the technology could be fully rolled out during 2014, enabling the use of white space devices across the country.Richards 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.”

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