White space opportunities for blue-sky thinkers
Following successful completion of the 4G mobile spectrum auction in 2013, Ofcom has been continually seeking opportunities to free up spare spectrum to meet the growing demand for data… Read more
Following successful completion of the 4G mobile spectrum auction in 2013, Ofcom has been continually seeking opportunities to free up spare spectrum to meet the growing demand for data in the UK.
Earlier this month, Ofcom announced that it will make available access to currently unused parts of the radio spectrum known as TV white spaces (TVWS) which is the spectrum left over on the UHF TV band by Digital Terrestrial Television and Programme Making and Special Events use (though frequently exploited by radio mics and audio devices, among other services). The TVWS conceptual framework designed by Ofcom represents a first step towards authorising dynamic spectrum access in the UK.
The white space spectrum in the TV frequency band is appealing for industry because it can travel longer distances and more easily through walls than the bands mainly used by other wireless technologies, such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.
Possible uses for TVWS include: rural broadband, hot-spot coverage, in-home broadband, in-home multi-media-distribution, machine to machine communications, digital signage, broadband on ships, wi-fi and webcam backhaul with many more yet to be discovered. As such, Ofcom have taken the view that the use of TVWS needs to be both application neutral and service-neutral to allow full exploration and innovation in the field before assessing any regulatory controls.
TVWS spectrum will be made available to devices which will operated under the control of a geo-location database to track frequencies of the devices to limit power levels and avoid interference with existing users.
The initiative is experimental in nature and it is not yet clear what the potential uses will be or how much economic activity there will be in the white spaces. It is not envisaged there will be large scale commercial use of white spaces and, as such, Ofcom is not planning to levy any charges from database providers during the first three years and the licence exemption may be extended further.
For more information, please contact Andy Moseby, Corporate Partner