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Ofcom pushes on with White Spaces trials

Progress report from UK telecomms body
Thu Sep 01 2011, 11:15

UK TELECOMMS REGULATOR Ofcom's plans to use White Spaces wireless internet technology are progressing well, according to a report it has released.

Ofcom said that its plans for White Spaces in the UK put it ahead of the rest of Europe, adding that so far its trials have shown the technology to be impressive. It is expected that once in place White Spaces could solve ongoing problems like the lack of high speed connections in rural areas, thanks to its knack for sending signals through walls and over long distances and its reliance on the unused parts of the radio spectrum usually reserved for television broadcasts.

Ofcom expects White Spaces to lessen the load on wireless networks, and currently estimates that it will create about the same size of spectrum as that used by 3G services, for example.

"At an early stage Ofcom identified the potential of White Spaces, which are currently lying vacant all around us. Within Europe, we have been leading the way to try to harness this capacity without causing harmful interference to existing users of the spectrum," said Ed Richards, Ofcom chief executive.

"The solution we have devised creates the opportunity to maximise the efficient use of spectrum and open the door to the development of a new and exciting range of consumer and business applications."

Ofcom will not require licences for running White Spaces, as long as they do not interfere with any other signals, and said that they would perhaps work best in local set-ups where links, using router like devices, could be made between a rural village and its larger town neighbours. A trial to see how well this works is currently being carried out in Bute, Scotland.

Ofcom expects White Spaces to launch in the UK in 2013 and is considering the use of unused FM bands in further trials. It has started a consultation into how best to manage its use and is expected to open up its database requirements to providers that want to be involved in the full rollout. µ


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