UK plans for white space networks

White space broadband got a huge boost this week when the UK's Office of Communications (Ofcom) announced plans to launch a new broadband service that will effectively double the current amount of bandwidth for mobile and other devices.

White space is spectrum that exists between bands reserved for television and radio companies, and up until now it has mostly gone unused. As networks such as 3G reach the tipping point of max usage, regulators are eyeing this spectrum and seeing it as an opportunity. While many countries have been examining white space spectrum, it appears the first official rollout will happen in the UK.

With a new data path, using white space would be more of an extension of existing networks. When 3G maxes out, it would roll over and expand into this new spectrum. Ofcom has stated that there is as much white space spectrum as there is 3G coverage, so doubling the amount of bandwidth for consumers will be most welcome.

One key advantage is that white space can cover a wider area. Currently, 3G signals ramp up and down via the city or rural area, typically fine in a larger metropolis, but very hit or miss when going through rural, sparsely populated areas. White space roams through and between 470MHz and 790MHz frequencies, so it can travel farther and wider, and avoid many of the pitfalls of a 3G service. Plans are targeted for a rollout in 2013, when a large sweep of consumers will enjoy double the mobile TV bandwidth (up to 22Mb/s) and much more reliable services in cities, rural and beyond.