Ofcom: next-gen Wi-Fi could be here by 2014

White space, the final frontier

TODO alt text

Ofcom has revealed more information about the UK's potential "white spaces" broadband that uses the nooks and crannies in radio spectrum to deliver higher speeds over longer distances.

While there's still no actual launch date, Ofcom has outlined a framework for how the nifty networks could work across the UK and says the tech could launch in late 2013.

Ofcom's plan requires new legislation to make white space devices licence exempt - this would prevent issues with wireless tech but also means that there could be a hold up as passing new legislation will likely be a bureaucratic nightmare.

Vast

White spaces devices are likely to be popular given that the radio waves used by white space devices can travel much vaster distances than Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.

Google and Microsoft have already expressed "extreme" interest in the white spaces project, according to reports last week.

This ability to travel means that white space could be the solution to rural areas' broadband woes, as it should work out much more economical than laying hundreds of miles of fibre.

Even town mice should see some benefits from white space devices, in the form of enhanced Wi-Fi.

White spaces could provide new capacity for existing networks, giving them greater reach potentially right across towns and cities –at the very least it should stretch to the third-floor of your house or the bottom of your garden.

Ofcom ran a 10-month trial of white spaces which ended earlier this year and were deemed a success despite delivering fairly questionable speeds.

The new plans are open for consultation until January 2013; but there's a long road ahead before white spaces become the norm in the UK, although Ofcom reckons there's a chance we'll see a launch in late 2013.

Probably not worth holding your breath for that though.