Microsoft, BT and others are joining a European pilot of white-space broadband, which makes use of gaps in the spectrum used for digital TV and could help tackle constraints on spectrum availability.
Around 20 organisations will join the pilot in different roles over the coming months to test how it can be put to work for urban wi-fi, rural broadband and low-data traffic management systems, the UK’s communications regulator OfCom announced on Wednesday.
The trials will investigate the potential for white spaces to meet the surge in demand for wireless capacity expected as the ‘internet of things’ gathers pace.
Microsoft’s involvement will test the viability of white space spectrum with free wi-fi in Glasgow, in partnership with the University of Strathclyde’s Centre for White Space Communications.
One of the UK’s most congested highways, connecting the busy container port at Felixstowe to Birmingham, is to become Britain’s first internet-connected road in a pilot project that could pave the way for everything from tolls to self-driving cars. A network of sensors will be placed along a 50-mile stretch of the A14 in a collaboration between BT, the Department for Transport and the Cambridge start-up Neul, creating a smart road which can monitor traffic by sending signals to and from mobile phones in moving vehicles.
UK gets serious about white spaces
White spaces are sections of radio spectrum that lie between frequency bands and can be used for communications technology. Taking advantage of the unused frequency could enable broadband providers to supply better wireless services and more coverage, although how well wireless works through white spaces is not yet known as the technology is still being built out. But as spectrum itself is a finite item, using all that is available is increasingly important as mobile device penetration grows worldwide and high-speed wireless becomes expected in the wireless market.
Ofcom has announced that the UK is to be one of the first countries in the world to test white space technology. 20 public and private organisations will be participating in Ofcom’s pilot program in the next six months. White spaces are the gaps in the frequency band used to broadcast digital terrestrial TV. Ofcom provides a host of examples of different organisations that will be testing the uses of white spaces. BT and Neul will be working with the Department of Transport to transmit data on taffic congestion to vehicles, so as to improve information for drivers and reduce congestion.
Ofcom has embarked on a UK-wide “white space” wireless technology trial, with 20 public and private sector organisations already signed up to take part. The regulator claims white space, the name used to describe the gaps in the frequency bands used to broadcast digital terrestrial TV, could be used to run a range of wireless applications and devices. Some of these white spaces are used by other applications, explained Ofcom, but only at certain times. This means, when they’re free, they can be used to run wireless devices.