Ofcom to implement white space regulations on Dec. 31

Ofcom said regulations that will enable certain wireless devices to use white-space spectrum for the provision of new wireless services for consumers and businesses were signed on Dec. 18 and will come into effect on Dec. 31.

The UK regulator said the Wireless Telegraphy (White Space Devices) (Exemption) Regulations 2015 -- known as the WSD Regulations -- would enable the licence-exempt use of white space devices (WSD) in the UHF TV band and give effect to a decision announced in February 2015.

In February, Ofcom announced it was pressing ahead with key spectrum and frequency sharing specifications that would enable industry to utilise white space spectrum for mobile broadband services without interfering with existing equipment operating in white spaces.

The term 'white space' refers to the gaps between radio spectrum frequency bands. The white spaces covered by the regulations are in frequencies currently used for services including digital terrestrial TV and wireless microphones in the 470-790 MHz spectrum band.

To avoid interference with existing users of the spectrum such as terrestrial digital TV service providers, devices will need to communicate with databases that will apply rules set by Ofcom to put limits on the power levels at which devices can operate.

The regulator said these databases will communicate with all devices attempting to access the white space frequency, providing technical and power constraints for each device based on an assessment of the unit's location, frequencies, and the time of day.

The regulator opened the door to white-space trials 2014, in a bid to spur development of new wireless services. Trials of the technology included a live video stream of animals at the ZSL London Zoo, a machine to machine-capable (M2M) flood defence network, Wi-Fi style services at a University, and Internet connectivity for ships in and around the Orkney Islands in the far north of the country.

Ofcom's white space trials attracted big names including Google, which teamed up for the ZSL London Zoo trial, and Microsoft, which teamed with the University of Strathclyde to test external Wi-Fi and webcam backhaul.

Analysts previously noted white space could also be used to improve broadband coverage in rural areas. White space can travel further and penetrate walls more easily than Bluetooth or Wi-Fi technologies, Ofcom explained in a prior announcement.

For more:
- see the Ofcom statement

Related articles:
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Ofcom says Google white space trial maintains UK lead
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Ofcom opens consultation into fresh LTE spectrum sale

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