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Ofcom plans ‘supercharged Wi-Fi’ for rural areas

New wireless technology could boost remote access


Unless you live in one of our over populated cities, broadband access and speed can be a real problem. Ofcom, the communications regulator, has a plan to solve this problem and it’s called ‘white space technology’.

Ofcom says ‘white space’, which is defined as the unused frequencies between TV channels, could be used to supply broadband access to remote rural locations that currently lack high-speed internet, or suffer a dearth of options.

In ideal conditions, signals can be sent for several miles, and the frequency means such signals pass more easily through walls and are less prone to interference.

How will it work?

White space technology will use routers, but unlike your Wi-Fi router at home they will have to communicate with an online database that tells the router what frequencies and power levels it may use. These routers will then search for broadband internet connections in the local area and connect to them if possible. Ofcom plans to allow companies to host these databases in 2011.

Professor William Webb, Director of Technology Resources at Ofcom, said: ‘The airwaves that wireless devices depend on are becoming increasingly congested…Using the white spaces between TV channels is a good example of how we can use [the] spectrum more efficiently.’

Ofcom estimates it will have regulations and technical details settled by the end of 2011.

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