Ofcom presses ahead with ‘white space’ spectrum initiative

UK telecoms watchdog Ofcom has revealed plans to implement an enhanced Wifi platform through ‘white space’ spectrum, allocated but unused by broadcasters for television connectivity.

The project is expected to first launch in the UK by 2013 and eventually spread across the rest of Europe. Ofcom believes such a service will have the capability of travelling at twice the speed of Wifi technology available today – running as fast as the speeds presently available on 3G.

“Within Europe, we have been leading the way to try to harness this capacity without causing harmful interference to existing users of the spectrum,” said Ed Richards, chief executive at Ofcom. “The solution we have devised creates the opportunity to maximize the efficient use of spectrum and open the door to the development of a new and exciting range of consumer and business applications.”

It is expected the deployment of this enhanced Wifi service will be rapid, considering the use of ‘white space’ spectrum does not require a licence as its usage does not interfere with existing users in the spectrum.

According to the Financial Times, savings and economic benefits of up to £320 million could be derived through tapping into unused spectrum. Ofcom aims to eventually extend the initiative to rural areas, in a further bid to bridge the digital divide in communications. Ofcom said ‘white space’ spectrum will serve as an alternate route for broadband communications, and there has already been interest from major technology companies, including Microsoft, in pioneering such a scheme.