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Ofcom moots white space tech for broadband, smart grid

Ofcom has launched a consultation to see how 'white space' technology might be rolled out in the UK.The technology uses the spaces in between TV channels for wireless communications — the spectrum involved is quite low-frequency, so it works over great distances.
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Written by David Meyer on

Ofcom has launched a consultation to see how 'white space' technology might be rolled out in the UK.

The technology uses the spaces in between TV channels for wireless communications — the spectrum involved is quite low-frequency, so it works over great distances. According to Ofcom, devices that use such spectrum to communicate will be licence-exempt. Possible applications include wireless broadband and the smart grid.

"The airwaves that wireless devices depend on are becoming increasingly congested," Ofcom technology chief William Webb said in a statement. "We need to think about more efficient ways of using this limited resource. Using the white spaces between TV channels is a good example of how we can both use spectrum more efficiently and provide opportunities for innovative new applications and services."

The telecoms regulator is looking for companies to run geolocation databases that lay out which frequencies are available where. These databases will have to be consulted regularly by white-space routers. Both Google and Microsoft are keenly trialling the technology in the US.

Ofcom's consultation closes on 7 December, and the regulator expects the technical and regulatory framework for the technology to be ready by the end of 2011.

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