UK trials new wireless technology

Ofcom is progressing plans for the introduction of new wireless technology in the UK – the first country in Europe likely to do so.

With trials already taking place across the country, Ofcom is working with Google and ZSL London Zoo – the latest organisations to launch TV ‘white space’ trials, using the technology to stream live footage of animals to YouTube.

This technology uses gaps in radio spectrum that exist in between frequency bands, called white space, to offer new wireless applications that will benefit consumers and businesses.

Ofcom is working with industry to test how this technology might be put into practice. The trials test a range of uses, such as internet access for rural communities, Wi-Fi-like services, wireless video streaming, or new ‘machine-to-machine’ networks.

Following completion of the trials, testing and policy development, Ofcom expects the technology could be rolled out during 2015; enabling the use of new wireless applications to benefit consumers and businesses across the country.

There are already seven trials running across the UK, with more scheduled to start over the coming months. Both public and private organisations are taking part, testing a variety of innovative applications, using spectrum temporarily licensed by Ofcom:

  • Live video streaming: Google and ZSL London Zoo, along with equipment providers MediaTek and 6Harmonics, have launched a trial this week to use a TV white space network to stream live video of the Zoo’s meerkats, Asian otters and giant Galapagos tortoises to YouTube.
  • Flood defence: using TV white space technology, Love Hz and Nominet are working with the Oxford Flood Network, a citizen-built wireless sensor network, which provides early flood warnings for the community. Water levels are monitored in real-time and sent over white space using Adaptrum devices.
  • Next generation Wi-Fi and city sensing: The University of Strathclyde’s Centre for White Space Communications has been working with Microsoft, 6Harmonics, MediaTek, Spectrum Bridge, and Sky – with backing from the Scottish Government. The pilot explores how the latest technology, including triple-band Wi-Fi, can enhance internet coverage in indoor and outdoor urban locations and enable ‘smart city’ functionality, including linking webcams and other sensors.
  • Internet on ships and boats: CloudNet IT Solutions, Fairspectrum and Carlson Wireless Technologies are using white spaces to provide internet connectivity and communications to ferries travelling in the Orkney Islands and Pentland Firth, which have no wireless broadband availability. CloudNet are also looking to extend this trial to other transport operators in the area. Separately, Microsoft, Neul and 6Harmonics have been working with Click 4 Internet on the Isle of Wight to test how the technology could work with boats at sea.

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