Microsoft has been a longtime advocate of unregulated spectrum and white spaces. It appears the company will now get its chance to show what it can do with them. UK regulator Ofcom has named Microsoft to test WiFi-like services to underserved Glasgow, while Click4internet will assess rural broadband in remote or tricky locations. Google has signed on as a potential database provider. Ofcom hope to have everything running by next year.
How White Spaces work:
These new services will utilise the gaps, or ‘white spaces’, that sit in the frequency band used to broadcast digital terrestrial TV. Some of these gaps may be used by other applications, such as wireless microphones, but only at certain times.
White space devices would access the spaces at times when they are vacant, by communicating their locations to a database designed to minimise the risk of interference with any existing users. This is a creative and efficient way to get the most from spectrum – the vital but finite resource that supports all wireless technology.
The amount of white space available in the UK varies by location, the power level of devices and the point in the day at which they access spectrum.
Unlike some other parts of the radio spectrum, white spaces will be available to use on a licence-exempt basis, potentially allowing for fast take-up and innovation by manufacturers.