Consultant and one-time head of research and development for UK regulator Ofcom, William Webb asks whether operators really need to own the spectrum in which their services operate. If radio access infrastructure can be outsourced or shared and the core can be virtualised, why shouldn’t the industry look at innovative usage models for spectrum?
In this second feature, I want to take a closer look at why white space has seemingly stumbled, despite its surrounding hype. I have to confess that, in my experience, there’s always an associated amount of puffery within the telecommunications industry – an inflated balloon of hyperbole used to garner momentum for a new technology.
Three or four years ago, white space radio was surrounded by enormous hype and it embarked upon a news flurry, which witnessed the industry ‘stop in its tracks’ as a whirlwind of excitement swept the technology off its feet. Crikey, white space radio was primed to solve so many problems!
UK regulator Ofcom has announced that a group of technology firms, including Google, BT and Microsoft, are taking part in Europe’s first major pilot of white space technology. The regulator said that the UK will be among the first countries in the world to road-test the technology, which could help support the next wave of wireless innovation.
At the Future of Wireless 2013 event staged by UK industry organisation Cambridge Wireless earlier this month, James Collier, the founder and CTO of white space solutions provider Neul, suggested that mobile operators are ill-equipped to provision the Internet of Things (IoT). Alex Sinclair, CTO of the GSMA, countered by suggesting that the IoT opportunity is big enough for everyone, but MNOs will clearly be key players and not just for simple connectivity.
White space data services provider Neul has released what it hails as the world’s first TV white space transceiver chip. The chip, called Iceni, will be used for machine-to-machine (M2M) connections as well as wireless broadband applications.
Tech giant Microsoft has opened a European research centre aimed at providing greater insight into spectrum efficiency as a driver for wireless broadband access. The European Spectrum Observatory has been set up in Brussels, at Microsoft’s Cloud and Interoperability Centre. The firm said that it intends to examine barriers standing in the way of efficient spectrum allocation.
A research centre focussed on developing white space technology has been opened at Strathclyde University in Glasgow, Scotland. The centre aims to work with players in the industry such as Microsoft, BT, the BBC and the UK government to develop technology that will tap into the unused white space spectrum.
The European Commission (EC) has called on mobile operators in the region to share radio spectrum more effectively. The authority said that national spectrum regulation does not efficiently utilise spectrum or allow licensees to make use of new technical possibilities, leaving mobile and broadband users at risk of poor service as demand for data continues to grow.
A new book “Understanding Weightless” has just been published to provide information and insight into the proposed standard for wireless M2M communications. Here, the author, William Webb, explains why a new standard was developed and the markets it is designed to serve.
Neul, the UK white space startup that says its technology will revolutionise the M2M and local broadband sectors, has announced plans to jointly develop and market a new white space radio networking system with a new hardware partner, Carlson. The pair said that the technology will bring affordable broadband to millions of under-served customers worldwide.
There’s usually no shortage of opinion in this industry, so I’ve been surprised by the reticence I’ve encountered trying to find out what the big operators think about Neul, the UK startup that reckons a new wireless data standard it’s developed for operation in the TV broadcast white space spectrum should—and will—be adopted for M2M services worldwide.