Expected to be launched in the UK in 2013
UK telecom regulator Ofcom has progressed plans for the introduction of White Space technology in the UK, which uses signals that can travel large distances and easily through walls.
Ofcom said the technology makes it suitable for a wide range of new consumer applications that could include rural broadband and Wi-Fi with up to twice the range of today’s technology.
The technology searches for unused areas of the airwaves or gaps called ‘White Spaces’ that exist in bands that have been reserved for TV broadcasts, to transmit and receive wireless signals.
Ofcom expects the amount of white spaces, which offer capacity to help alleviate pressures on wireless networks, will be as much as currently available spectrum for 3G services, and significantly more in some locations.
Compared to Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, White Space devices are being designed to use lower frequencies that have traditionally been reserved for TV.
Ofcom Chief Executive Ed Richards said at an early stage Ofcom identified the potential of White Spaces, which are currently lying vacant all around them.
"Within Europe, we have been leading the way to try to harness this capacity without causing harmful interference to existing users of the spectrum," Richards said.
"The solution we have devised creates the opportunity to maximise the efficient use of spectrum and open the door to the development of a new and exciting range of consumer and business applications."
These applications include enhanced Wi-Fi, rural broadband, and machine-to-machine communications that allows information to be exchanged between devices.
White Space technology will work in a similar way to Wi-Fi, though with a main difference where White Space router will first need to consult a list of databases hosted online, notifying one of these databases of its location and update it on a regular basis.
The database will then return details of the radio-frequencies and power levels it is allowed to use, Ofcom said.
This will ensure that the devices do not interfere with existing licensed users of the spectrum, which include Digital Terrestrial Television and wireless microphone users.
Ofcom has decided to allow multiple third-party providers to develop databases, and to make White Space devices licence exempt, which requires the devices not to cause harmful interference to existing users of the spectrum.
According to Ofcom, White Space technology is expected to be launched in the UK in 2013.