Ofcom plans to trial the use of gaps between radio spectrum bands allocated to digital terrestrial broadcasters for applications including broadband access in rural areas, WiFi-type services and machine-to-machine transmission and reception.
The trial will take place in the autumn and Ofcom will identify the locations based on its choice of trial participants.
The regulator said that white space technology could be fully rolled out as early as next year following a successful completion of the pilot.
The pilot will test the inter-operation of white spaces devices, white space databases and the processes to mitigate against causing any undue interference to current spectrum users.
White space technology uses low frequencies, traditionally reserved for TV broadasting, that are able to transmit further than existing WiFi technology, including through walls. According to Ofcom, to prevent interference with TV signals, a TV white space device will not be able to start transmitting until it gets clearance from a database qualified by Ofcom and listed on a dedicated website, that will provide updated information on where the TV white spaces are and the power level that devices would need to be restricted to if they wanted to use them.
“Ofcom is preparing for a future where consumers’ demand for data services will experience huge growth. This will be fuelled by smartphones, tablets and other new wireless applications,” said Ofcom CEO Ed Richards. “White space technology is one creative way that this demand can be met. We are aiming to facilitate this important innovation by working closely with industry.”