U.K.’s Ofcom Launches ‘White Space Consultation’

The United States is not alone in considering what to do with spectrum previously used for analog TV broadcasting. Ofcom, the telecommunications regulator in the United Kingdom, address that issue in a recent “consultation.”

A “consultation” is roughly equivalent to a “Notice of Inquiry” or a “Notice of Proposed Rulemaking” from the FCC.

Unlike in the United States, where TV white space is being considered for use by unlicensed wireless devices, the United Kingdom consultation suggested applications more in line with broadcasting. These include:

  • New digital television services covering most of the United Kingdom, or a region or nation
  • Television services covering a city or a local area
  • Services in support of programming and special events
  • The possibility of mobile television and mobile broadband.

Ofcom said that later phases would include the offering of white space spectrum in many different parts of the United Kingdom at the same time, through a “combined” award. This would allow bidders to put together blocks of spectrum so that they could offer new digital TV services across most of the United Kingdom, or a large part of the nation. Bidders could also acquire the spectrum to offer this service in a city or a network of cities. This award could be made in late 2009.

Another proposed phase would be the offering of white space spectrum that might be suitable for local TV services in a wide variety of locations, depending on demand. These awards could take place roughly one year ahead of switchover in each region, with the last award in 2011.

Full information is available at www.ofcom.org.uk. Information on this most recent action is available from the Web article Digital Dividend—New Opportunities for Local Services.

Doug Lung

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. As vice president of Broadcast Technology for NBCUniversal Local, H. Douglas Lung leads NBC and Telemundo-owned stations’ RF and transmission affairs, including microwave, radars, satellite uplinks, and FCC technical filings. Beginning his career in 1976 at KSCI in Los Angeles, Lung has nearly 50 years of experience in broadcast television engineering. Beginning in 1985, he led the engineering department for what was to become the Telemundo network and station group, assisting in the design, construction and installation of the company’s broadcast and cable facilities. Other projects include work on the launch of Hawaii’s first UHF TV station, the rollout and testing of the ATSC mobile-handheld standard, and software development related to the incentive auction TV spectrum repack. A longtime columnist for TV Technology, Doug is also a regular contributor to IEEE Broadcast Technology. He is the recipient of the 2023 NAB Television Engineering Award. He also received a Tech Leadership Award from TV Tech publisher Future plc in 2021 and is a member of the IEEE Broadcast Technology Society and the Society of Broadcast Engineers.