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Ofcom approves use of white space spectrum

05 сентября 2011

U.K. regulator Ofcom has approved the use of white spaces spectrum for communication services such as broadband Internet and M2M, predicting that white space technology will come to market by 2013.

In a statement the watchdog said the frequencies – pockets of unused airwaves sitting in bands reserved for broadcast TV signals – are comparable to the amount of spectrum currently available for 3G services, and therefore have the potential to ease the strain on mobile networks. Ofcom said they could be used to extend broadband to rural communities by building a network of transmitters that use white spaces to connect remote locations to areas that already have sufficient broadband infrastructure.

Ofcom said white space spectrum could also be used to enhance existing wireless Internet technologies such as WiFi. At the moment WiFi products operate in the 2.4-GHz band and tend to be used to provide in-building and local area coverage. However, Ofcom said by making use of lower-frequency white spaces spectrum, which is better at travelling long distances and penetrating walls, WiFi coverage could be extended to stretch across whole towns and cities.

"Within Europe, we have been leading the way to try to harness this [white spaces] capacity without causing harmful interference to existing users of the spectrum," claimed Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards. "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 also sees an opportunity to use white spaces for machine-to-machine (M2M) communications, where the long-range frequencies would be able to carry data from deep within buildings.

"This could be especially useful for wirelessly measuring utility meters in consumers' homes," said Ofcom.

In addition, the regulator said it will propose making devices that use white spaces licence-exempt, meaning they will be permitted to operate without having to seek permission from Ofcom provided they do not cause harmful interference with existing users of the spectrum. In order to ensure interference does not become an issue, Ofcom said white space routers will be required to notify and update a list of databases with their location, which will then return a list of radio frequencies and power levels it is permitted to use in that area.

Ofcom's announcement follows a similar move in September last year by its U.S. counterpart the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which also ruled that unused spectrum sitting in TV bands should be freed up for licence exempt wireless services.

Источник: Total Telecom

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