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Cable Technology Feature Article

October 13, 2014

Ofcom Expects 2015 TV White Spaces Commercialization

By Gary Kim, Contributing Editor

Ofcom says the United Kingdom will likely be the first country in Europe to authorize use of TV white spaces technology on a commercial basis, some time in 2015.

Precisely what applications TV white spaces ultimately will support is unclear.

Ofcom and others have suggested a range of potential uses, including Internet access for rural communities, Wi-Fi-type access, wireless video streaming, maritime communications or new machine-to-machine services and networks.

Compared with other forms of local distribution platforms, such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, the radio waves used by TV white space devices can travel longer distances and more easily through walls, Ofcom says.

Ofcom says it also will explore whether similar techniques are possible in other spectrum bands.

And that might be the key take away. White space technology is one way of meeting the growing demand for data in the United Kingdom, in addition to making available other new blocks of spectrum for communications purposes.

Ofcom is separately planning to free up more spectrum in the future for the next generation of high-speed data services, such as that being released by the Ministry of Defense, Ofcom says.

Ofcom also has released spectrum that can be used for machine-to-machine or Internet of Things networks.

“These trials are an important first step in Ofcom understanding whether white space can be used in other spectrum bands,” says Philip Marnick, Ofcom group director, spectrum policy group.

That is a reference to possible spectrum sharing on a wider basis, especially in blocks of licensed spectrum where it might be possible to share existing spectrum already reserved for some governmental purpose with commercial users.

The notion is that licensees would retain primary use of the frequencies, but that commercial users also could use resources when licensees are not using the spectrum.

There are a number of advantages. The cost of clearing spectrum for additional commercial use, and the amount of time required to do so, would be substantially reduced. The sharing approach is minimally disruptive to existing licensees.

And new ways to dynamically share existing spectrum between multiple entities increasingly is available. 

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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