UK begins consultation on white spaces spectrum

Harnessing the unused 'white spaces' in TV spectrum for wireless broadband has been mainly a US issue to date, but the UK regulator Ofcom has also started a consultation on plans to license these frequencies, particularly to help improve broadband coverage in rural areas.

The US FCC approved the use of white spaces for wireless last year, on a license-exempt basis, subject to various measures being adopted to prevent interference with broadcasters' signals. Fervent lobbyists for this spectrum option, such as Microsoft, Motorola and Google, have been working on various elements--such as device prototypes and geolocation databases--to make the technology commercially viable, though this is expected to be a three-year task at least.

Ofcom is several steps behind this, and may consider a licensed model, which - as so often with recent UK policies - could influence the rest of the European Union. The main applications in which it has expressed interest are rural broadband, with affordable coverage enabled by the low frequencies of the broadcast bands; and in-home monitoring systems. Article