By Max Clarke

The UK is to be the first European country to exploit ‘White Space’ technology for long range or rural broadband transmission, telecoms regulator, Ofcom has announced.

‘White Space’ technology works by searching for unused areas of the airwaves or gaps called ‘White Spaces’ that exist in bands that have been reserved for TV broadcasts. These White Spaces are used to transmit and receive wireless signals. Recycling airwaves — or “spectrum” — in this way is a highly efficient use of what is a very limited resource.

The technology was pioneered recently by a Cambridge-based startup, NeulNet, and has recently attracted a consortium of interest from big business, including BskyB, the BBC and Microsoft.

“At an early stage Ofcom identified the potential of White Spaces,” commented chief executive, Ed Richards, "which are currently lying vacant all around us. Within Europe, we have been leading the way to try to harness this capacity without causing harmful interference to existing users of the spectrum.”

The waves will be license exempt, and could be used for machine-to-machine communications, delivering broadband into remote rural areas, and for enhancing Wi-Fi within current ‘not spots’.

“The solution we have devised creates the opportunity to maximise the efficient use of spectrum and open the door to the development of a new and exciting range of consumer and business applications,” continued Richards.

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