National Broadband News

New technology trials promise faster wireless broadband

24th October 2014
New technology trials promise faster wireless broadband

Ofcom is working with Google to introduce new wireless technology in the UK - the first country in Europe likely to do so. In the TV ‘white space’ trials ZSL London Zoo is using the technology to stream live footage of animals to YouTube.

This technology uses gaps in radio spectrum that exist in between frequency bands, called white space, to offer new wireless applications that will benefit consumers and businesses.

Compared with other forms of wireless technologies, such as regular Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, the radio waves used by TV white space devices can travel longer distances and more easily through walls.

The on-going trials are testing the operation of white spaces devices, white space databases used to identify what spectrum is available, and the processes needed to minimise the risk of interference to current spectrum users.

A live web stream of meerkats, Asian otters and giant Galapagos tortoises, delivered over white spaces, is available to view here.

Ofcom is working with industry to test how this technology might be put into practice. The trials test a range of uses, such as internet access for rural communities, Wi-Fi-like services, wireless video streaming, or new ‘machine-to-machine’ networks.

Following completion of the trials, testing and policy development, Ofcom expects the technology could be rolled out during 2015; enabling the use of new wireless applications to benefit consumers and businesses across the country.

There are already seven trials running across the UK, with more scheduled to start over the coming months. Both public and private organisations are taking part, testing a variety of innovative applications, using spectrum temporarily licensed by Ofcom.

White space technology is one way of meeting the growing demand for data in the UK. Ofcom is separately planning to free up more spectrum in the future for the next generation of high-speed data services, such as that being released by the Ministry of Defence. This follows the successful completion of the 4G mobile spectrum auction in 2013.