Ofcom, the UK’s telecoms regulator, said the country is well ahead with plans for white space technology, in fact it could roll out commercially in 2015, ahead of the rest of Europe.
Seven trials of white space technology are already taking place around the UK, using the gaps between frequency bands, according to the regulator. These efforts include fixed incumbent BT and computing giant Microsoft.
The latest trial to be released into the wild involves Google and ZSL London Zoo, in an effort which went live this week.
The partners have developed a live webstream of animals including meerkats, Asian otters and giant Galapagos tortoises that is delivered via white space spectrum to viewers on Youtube.
Vendors MediaTek and 6Harmonics are also involved.
This is just the latest initiative to take advantage of a temporary licence from Ofcom, which sees white space technology as a means to address potential spectrum shortages.
Other trial applications have included early warning for flood defence, enhanced Wi-Fi coverage in urban areas and connectivity for ferries which have no wireless broadband coverage.
Following completion of the trials, testing and policy development, Ofcom said the technology could be rolled out during 2015.
White spaces (radio)
In telecommunications, white spaces refer to frequencies allocated to a broadcasting service but not used locally.
National and international bodies assign different frequencies for specific uses, and in most cases license the rights to broadcast over these frequencies. This frequency allocation process creates a bandplan, which for technical reasons assigns white space between used radio bands or channels to avoid interference. In this case, while the frequencies are unused, they have been specifically assigned for a purpose, such as a guard band. Most commonly however, these white spaces exist naturally between used channels, since assigning nearby transmissions to immediately adjacent channels will cause destructive interference to both. In addition to white space assigned for technical reasons, there is also unused radio spectrum which has either never been used, or is becoming free as a result of technical changes. In particular, the switchover to digital television frees up large areas between about 50 MHz and 700 MHz. This is because digital transmissions can be packed into adjacent channels, while analog ones cannot. This means that the band can be "compressed" into fewer channels, while still allowing for more transmissions.
In the United States, the abandoned television frequencies are primarily in the upper UHF "700-megahertz" band, covering TV channels 52 to 69 (698 to 806 MHz). U.S. television and its white spaces will continue to exist in UHF frequencies, as well as VHF frequencies for which mobile users and white-space devices require larger antennas. In the rest of the world, the abandoned television channels are VHF, and the resulting large VHF white spaces are being reallocated for the worldwide (except the U.S.) digital radio standard DAB and DAB+, and DMB.
The licencing body of spectrum in the UK has made white-space free to use
Cambridge, United Kingdom tests
On June 29, 2011, One of the largest commercial tests of white space Wi-Fi was conducted in Cambridge, England. The trial was conducted by Microsoft using technology developed byAdaptrum and backed by a consortium of ISP's and tech companies including Nokia, BSkyB, the BBC, and BT, with the actual network hardware being provided by Neul. In the demonstration, the Adaptrum whitespace system provided the broadband IP connectivity allowing a client-side Microsoft Xbox to stream live HD videos from the Internet. Also as part of the demo, a live Xbox/Kinect video chat was established between two Xbox/Kinect units connected through the same TV whitespace connection. These applications were demonstrated under a highly challenging radio propagation environment with more than 120 dB link loss through buildings, foliage, walls, furniture, people etc. and with severe multipath effects.