Ofcom consults on devices to open up white spaces

Ofcom has published a framework for the operation of white space devices that would run between existing UHF spectrum used for the broadcast of digital terrestrial television (DTT).

Key to the regulators requirements is the management of potentially harmful interference to existing users of the UHF band. Devices used on the spectrum will need to run a sequence of operations, interacting both with each other, and databases detailing available spectrum.

Launching a seven week consultation that will close on January 10, 2013, Ofcom said it was for the industry to provide the detailed technical specification of the wireless communication protocols between the devices, and the communications protocols between the devices and databases. Consequently, the regulator is restricting itself to the functionality that manages the impact of interference.

Proposed statutory instruments include a draft interface requirement (IR) document, and a draft voluntary national specification (VNS).

The use of the 600 MHz cleared spectrum (550606 MHz) by white space devices was the subject of an earlier consultation on UHF strategy.

Ofcom has been investigating the use of access to white spaces – frequencies that are not being used by existing licensees at all times or at all locations – since 2007. Last year its Implementing Geolocation consultation concluded that licence exempt devices could be authorised to use TV white spaces, so long as they radiated in specific frequencies and at specific powers communicated to them by TV white space databases that had met Ofcom’s requirement.

Trials on the possible use of white spaces have been run in both Cambridge, England and Bute in Scotland. One possible use is the extension of Wi-Fi to rural areas. This could potentially extend broadband internet to an additional 2 million people.