Ofcom white-space trial raises M2M hopes

UK regulatory authority Ofcom has announced plans for a trial of so-called ‘white space’ technology that could prove ideal for use with M2M services.

The technology would use the gaps in radio spectrum that fall between bands used for digital terrestrial TV broadcasting.

Besides supporting M2M communications, the airwaves could also be used to provide WiFi-like services or broadband access in rural communities.

Inviting industry organizations to participate in a trial scheduled for the autumn, Ofcom said the technology could be fully rolled out next year.

UK regulatory authority Ofcom has announced plans for a trial of so-called ‘white space’ technology that could prove ideal for use with M2M services.

The technology would use the gaps in radio spectrum that fall between bands used for digital terrestrial TV broadcasting.

Besides supporting M2M communications, the airwaves could also be used to provide WiFi-like services or broadband access in rural communities.

Inviting industry organizations to participate in a trial scheduled for the autumn, Ofcom said the technology could be fully rolled out next year.

That would, of course, depend on the outcome of the trial, whose purpose would include testing the interoperability of white spaces devices and ensuring that services do not cause any undue interference to current spectrum users.

“Ofcom is preparing for a future where consumers’ demand for data services will experience huge growth,” said Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards. “This will be fuelled by smartphones, tablets and other new wireless applications. White space technology is one creative way that this demand can be met.”

White space is particularly suited to supporting long-range M2M applications because it uses lower frequencies that travel longer distances and more easily through walls.

News of the trial is sure to be welcomed by the Weightless Special Interest Group (SIG), an industry body that has developed an M2M standard for use in white space spectrum.

The organization – which counts semiconductor designer ARM (Cambridge, UK) and communications company Cable & Wireless Worldwide (London, UK) (now owned by Vodafone (Newbury, UK)) among its members – responded positively when Richards prioritized white space development during an EU policy debate held in March last year.

“What we have here is an enormous rallying cry,” said William Webb, the chief executive of the Weightless SIG, at the time. “It’s strongly encouraging to see Ofcom throwing such weight behind white space, and emphasizing its importance.”

“What’s more Mr Richards clearly recognizes the primacy of M2M as a driver for this space as a technology area of potentially huge societal and economic benefit,” added Webb.