BT and Microsoft to participate in Ofcom white space trial

BT and Microsoft are among the firms that are due to take part Ofcom’s ‘white space’ trial, in what will be Europe’s first major pilot of the new wireless technology.

The UK broadcast regulator said that over the next six months, around 20 public and private organisations will participate in the trial, testing a range of applications.

The move forms part of Ofcom’s plan on how to manage spectrum over the next decade, which could include a rearrangement of DTT bands to release more mobile broadband spectrum.

Microsoft will white space technology – which uses spectrum gaps between frequency bands used to broadcast digital TV- to assess how this can provide people with access to free Wi-Fi in Glasgow, which has the lowest level of broadband take-up of all UK cities.

BT and technology firm Neul will work with the Department for Transport to test using white spaces to transmit data on traffic congestion.

Internet service provider, Click4internet, will use white spaces to test rural broadband in hard to reach places, while a number of other firms, including Google, have expressed interest in testing intelligent databases that ensure white spaces can be used without causing harmful interference to other devices, said Ofcom.

“Access to spectrum is fundamental to the future success of the UK’s digital economy, providing the infrastructure that underpins all wireless communications,” said Ed Richards, Ofcom’s chief executive.

“The upcoming white space pilot is a very exciting development, which has attracted an impressive line-up of participants, ranging from global tech giants to innovative UK start-ups. This is an excellent opportunity for the UK to help lead in the world of spectrum and one that could deliver huge benefits to society.”