Ofcom: 'White space' tech to support mobile data services in 2015

Will help UK meet demand for data in 'internet of things' era

Updated "White space" wireless technology could be used for mobile data services as early as next year, Ofcom has said.

The regulator said that trials of white space technology – which refers to the gaps that exist between radio spectrum bands already in use – will determine whether data can be transmitted using the gaps between radio frequency bands without disrupting the services already being delivered over existing spectrum.

The white space that could be brought into use next year currently acts as a buffer between radio spectrum currently used to support digital terrestrial TV broadcasting.

Ofcom said it hopes white space technology will be "rolled out during 2015" following the conclusion of the current trials, further testing and the development of a specific policy on its use. Bringing white space technology into use would enable "the use of new wireless applications to benefit consumers and businesses across the country", it said.

Being able to exploit the gaps between radio spectrum would help the UK meet "the growing demand for data" in the "internet of things" era, the regulator said. This is because its use could free-up radio spectrum for use by other data services that are delivered wirelessly, it said.

"In a world where consumers’ demand for data services is experiencing huge growth, it is essential we find the most efficient ways to share the airwaves," Philip Marnick, group director of Ofcom's spectrum policy group, said. "White space technology could be one way of meeting this demand. These trials are an important first step in Ofcom understanding whether white space can be used in other spectrum bands.

"Compared with other forms of wireless technologies, such as regular Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, the radio waves used by TV white space devices can travel longer distances and more easily through walls," Ofcom said in a statement.

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This story has been updated after an Ofcom spokesperson explained that the new white space technology would not be used to support digital terrestrial TV broadcasting services next year, as Outlaw had earlier reported. We are sorry for this original error.

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