Ofcom May Extend White Spaces Idea to FM Band in UK

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London - Jul 6, 2011 - According to the Wall Street Journal, Ed Richards, the chief executive of Ofcom (the United Kingdom's FCC equivalent) has indicated that the white space technology currently being tested in the analog TV band in U.K. might be used in the VHF FM band as well. More spectrum could be made available after the country converts completely to DAB. Richards spoke before the Radio Centre Members conference, and said, "Spectrum is a resource that is in huge demand, fueled by the recent explosion in smart phones and other wireless technologies. However there is only a limited amount of it to go around, which means we need to start thinking more creatively about how it is used. White space devices could offer the creative solution we are looking for."

The director of technology strategy at Ofcom is David Harrison. According to him, the white space plans are only in their very early stages. One of several different scenarios could play out. The complete switchover to DAB (which won't happen before 2017, according to Harrison) would free 6.5MHz of spectrum at the bottom of the current FM band. A more radical restructuring would result in a 10MHz block. At the top end of the band, other frequencies could be available, interleaved among existing digital stations. Harris also suggested that there were two obvious uses for the potentially freed up spectrum: to support broadband communications for very rural or otherwise remote areas; or machine-to-machine (M-2-M) communications.

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