Last updated: September 2, 2011 - 8:33am
The UK’s equivalent of the Federal Communications Commission laid out plans to use white spaces broadband in the UK, and expects to see such networks in use by 2013. Ofcom, the British regulator believes so-called white spaces, which are the fallow areas of spectrum between digital TV bands, could be used to help mobile operators offload traffic from their networks. Ofcom also suggests that it will evaluate using more spectrum for such a purpose with unused FM radio bands.
In the US, where the FCC has taken to calling the service Super Wi-Fi, a combination of rules designed to keep those trying to use the spectrum for broadband from interfering with those trying to use the spectrum for TV or wireless microphones have made the deployment of services and building devices a time-consuming challenge. A year after the rules were approved there are just a few test networks, no commercial devices and nine companies that have volunteered to operate databases that will help keep white spaces signals from interfering with nearby broadcasts.
Instead of being a utopian vision of mobile broadband, which Google and others portrayed it as back in 2008, it has morphed more into a utilitarian way to provide broadband to rural areas at a lower cost than laying fiber. So goodbye to white spaces as the future home for an economical Internet of things and hello to it as a WISP of sorts for rural America. In the UK it’s still discussed as potential backhaul, but perhaps that vision will also change.
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