UK to Carry Out White-Spaces Radio Spectrum Trials
The UK's telecoms regulator, Ofcom has announced pilot trials of white-space radio spectrum that will take place over the next six months.
The services being tested will utilise the gaps, or 'white spaces', that sit in the frequency band used to broadcast digital terrestrial TV. Some of these gaps may be used by other applications, such as wireless microphones, but only at certain times.
White space devices would access the spaces at times when they are vacant, by communicating their locations to a database designed to minimise the risk of interference with any existing users.
The amount of white space available in the UK varies by location, the power level of devices and the point in the day at which they access spectrum.
Unlike some other parts of the radio spectrum, white spaces will be available to use on a licence-exempt basis, potentially allowing for fast take-up and innovation by manufacturers8.
Ed Richards, Ofcom's Chief Executive, said: "The upcoming white space pilot is a very exciting development, which has attracted an impressive line-up of participants, ranging from global tech giants to innovative UK start-ups. This is an excellent opportunity for the UK to help lead in the world of spectrum and one that could deliver huge benefits to society."
British Telecom and Neul2 will work with the Department for Transport to test the potential enhancement of traffic information as part of a wider project along the A14 between Felixstowe and Cambridge. Using white spaces to transmit data on traffic congestion and varying traffic conditions to vehicles, the technology is designed to improve information to drivers and could reduce congestion and even improve road safety.
Microsoft will test how white spaces can provide people with access to free Wi-Fi in Glasgow, which has the lowest level of broadband take-up of all UK cities.
Working with the University of Strathclyde's Centre for White Space Communications, Microsoft will also examine using white spaces to link a network of sensors around Glasgow to create a 'smart city'.
Internet service provider, Click4internet, will use white spaces to test rural broadband in hard to reach places obscured by thick foliage or challenging topography. Unlike other forms of wireless technologies, such as regular Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, the radio waves used by white space devices will be able to travel larger distances and easily through solid objects. This is because they would use the lower frequencies that have traditionally been reserved for TV. They will work with technology partners, KTS & SineCom to deliver the pilot.
A number of companies, including Google, Nominet, LS telcom, iconectiv, Key Bridge, Fairspectrum and Spectrum Bridge have expressed interest in testing intelligent databases that ensure white spaces can be used without causing harmful interference to other devices.