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October 3, 2013

White Space technology to help improve UK wireless broadband

The UK is to be one of the first countries in the world to take part in a first major pilot of “white space” technology, which is a new wireless technology.

White Space technology is the process of using the “white spaces” that are left un-used in the frequency band that is used to deliver digital television. These white spaces exist to act as buffering gaps between the transmissions taking place so that there is no interference between them, however the size of the frequencies and when they are available changes which means that there is no constant white space area that can be used around the whole country. However, databases compiling the available white spaces, the time of day they are available and at what power levels are available at specific locations means that electronic devices such as mobile phones and tablet computers could tap in and use the spectrum at specific times when available.

The UK will be the first country in Europe to look to use white space technology, however we won’t be the first in the world as America and other countries have already made a start to utilise and use their white space.
The trials have some big names backing it who also want to get involved, including Microsoft, Google and BT for starters.

In Glasgow, Microsoft will be rolling out a free public WiFi service across the city using white space technology, this is because Glasgow is a city with one of the lowest take ups of broadband in the UK.

Google are hoping to be able to test intelligent databases which would be used to ensure that the white spaces can be used without causing harmful interference to other devices.

BT & Neul (a technology specialist) will be working with the Department for Transport to see if they can enhance traffic information. They will be running their trial along the A14 between Felixstowe and Cambridge by using the white space to transmit traffic congestion data and also varying traffic conditions to vehicles, this will then help give drivers extra information which could hopefully help ease congestion if drivers avoid certain areas.

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September 1, 2011

UK to use “White Space” TV spectrum for rural broadband

The UK is to be the first country in Europe to use “White Space” technology in the TV spectrum to deliver broadband to rural areas after Ofcom gave it the go-ahead.

How the “White Space” technology works is by searching for the “gaps” in the airwaves that have been reserved for use for TV broadcasting, the “gaps” are known as “White Spaces”. These White Spaces are then able to be used to transmit wireless signals which is where they can come in well for rural broadband.

The wireless signals to be used in the White Space of the spectrum will be able to travel greater distances but will work in a similar way to a standard WiFi connection.

Ed Richards. the Ofcom Chief Executive, said:

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.

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 state the following new applications that could follow by using this new technology:

Enhanced Wi-Fi: The majority of current Wi-Fi devices operate in spectrum at 2.4GHz. White Spaces could provide new capacity, while boosting the range of devices, potentially enabling Wi-Fi networks that stretch across towns and cities. This is thanks to the lower frequency of TV White Spaces (typically between 470 and 790MHz).

Rural broadband: White Spaces could be used to provide rural locations with broadband services. In practice, this could be achieved by building a network of transmitters that use White Spaces to link remote houses and villages to larger towns that are already connected to the internet. Trials are currently being undertaken by industry to test this on the island of Bute, Scotland.

Machine-to-Machine Communications: A relatively new area of innovation called Machine-to-Machine Communications allows information to be exchanged between devices. Many experts believe that in the coming years billions of devices will be able to connect wirelessly and via the internet for a range of applications. White spaces could be used to wirelessly transmit this information, using its additional range to reach deep inside buildings. This could be especially useful for wirelessly measuring utility meters in consumers’ homes – just one of a wide number of potential applications. Other examples include using White Spaces to keep an inventory of stock owned by a business, or making it easier for scientists to conduct research by automating the measurement of different readings.

It is expected that the White Space technology will launch in the UK in 2013 and it won’t be under licence.

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