Ofcom Puts UK White Spaces to the Test

UK's telecoms regulator stages a pilot in preparation for a 2014 white spaces roll out across the country

Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms

April 26, 2013

1 Min Read
Ofcom Puts UK White Spaces to the Test

The UK is prepping for a nationwide rollout of white spaces across the country, starting with a pilot of potential uses for the gaps in radio spectrum.

Ofcom, the UK's telecoms regulator, is positioning the white spaces to bring broadband access to rural communities and to build "Wi-Fi-like services" and new machine-to-machine networks.

Ofcom will choose a location for the trial once participants have been identified and, provided it goes well, will roll out the technology across the country in 2014.

White spaces are being explored around the globe as another way to keep up with the growth in mobile data. In the UK, Ofcom says February's 4G spectrum auction freed up more spectrum for what it's calling "5G" services, and white spaces are also being explored as a way to augment the capacity in expectation of future growth in wireless apps. (See Mommy, What's a White Space?)

In addition to testing of white-space devices, the trial will let Ofcom verify its white-space database and study how to mitigate interface with current spectrum users. In announcing the pilot, Ofcom notes that white-space signals can travel longer distances and more easily through walls than other wireless technologies like Wi-Fi.

Google is compiling its own database of frequency usage, which the FCC is testing in the U.S. and trialing in Cape Town, South Africa. California ISP Cal.Net announced this week it's one of the first to bring a commercial-grade TV white space broadband network to the regions it serves. (See California Beaming: White Spaces in Gold Country.) Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

About the Author(s)

Sarah Thomas

Director, Women in Comms

Sarah Thomas's love affair with communications began in 2003 when she bought her first cellphone, a pink RAZR, which she duly "bedazzled" with the help of superglue and her dad.

She joined the editorial staff at Light Reading in 2010 and has been covering mobile technologies ever since. Sarah got her start covering telecom in 2007 at Telephony, later Connected Planet, may it rest in peace. Her non-telecom work experience includes a brief foray into public relations at Fleishman-Hillard (her cussin' upset the clients) and a hodge-podge of internships, including spells at Ingram's (Kansas City's business magazine), American Spa magazine (where she was Chief Hot-Tub Correspondent), and the tweens' quiz bible, QuizFest, in NYC.

As Editorial Operations Director, a role she took on in January 2015, Sarah is responsible for the day-to-day management of the non-news content elements on Light Reading.

Sarah received her Bachelor's in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She lives in Chicago with her 3DTV, her iPad and a drawer full of smartphone cords.

Away from the world of telecom journalism, Sarah likes to dabble in monster truck racing, becoming part of Team Bigfoot in 2009.

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