Feeds

Ofcom: Luvvies, TV signals can share spectrum

Who would use wireless mikes outdoors? Er, TV people

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

Come the end of 2012, the Programme Makers and Special Events (PMSE) industry won't be restricted to spectrum white spaces in using their wireless microphones; Ofcom reckons wireless mikes and television signals can happily share the same frequencies.

The belief, laid out in the regulator's latest statement (19-page PDF/233KB, gets harder as it progresses), is based on testing that Ofcom has been doing since 1998, and assumes that wireless microphones won't go outdoors and that all TV aerials are more than 10 metres from the ground. With those caveats, Ofcom reckons wireless microphones can happily use the whole range of digital television frequencies without preventing anyone from watching Dr Who.

Outside things get a little more difficult, with interference in both directions being more of a problem. So the regulator has gotten together with the JMFG (who manages spectrum for the PMSE industry) to create an online database showing which bands are being used and where.

The database asks for log-on details, but can be accessed just by hitting "cancel" every now and then.

That shows which bands should offer least interference. The idea is to guide PMSE users into buying kit which will operate in their local unused (white) bands rather than relying on grey spaces where TV transmissions exist – even if Ofcom says that shouldn't matter. Many of those PMSE users are still clutching the Ofcom cheques they received for any Channel 69 kit they could scare up from the back of the cupboard, so knowing what to buy now is important.

Luvvies with Ofcom money burning a hole in their pocket might like to hold off though; the regulator admits that the spectrum plan might change if the government decides to chuck more resources into local TV or similar. There is also the question of how much white space is going to be consumed by the unlicensed devices that Ofcom plans to allow into the band.

These "white-fi" devices will use a database very similar to that put up by the JMFG, only read by a machine rather than a person. White space devices will provide local area networking as well as point-to-point connections, unrestricted by a licence or registration fee. Such devices should be required to avoid interfering with PMSE users, but how they'll manage that isn't yet clear.

In America, various white space channels have had to be reserved for wireless microphone use, in addition to the channels which have already been handed over (in the UK that's just channel 38, at 606MHz). Ofcom might decide to do something similar, though the small size of the UK means there's already a lot less white space available, and sharing frequencies with TV transmissions might not be acceptable to the noise boys no matter what Ofcom thinks. ®

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
Scotland's BIG question: Will independence cost me my broadband?
They can take our lives, but they'll never take our SPECTRUM
Trying to sell your house? It'd better have KILLER mobile coverage
More NB than transport links to next-gen buyers - study
iWallet: No BONKING PLEASE, we're Apple
BLE-ding iPhones, not NFC bonkers, will drive trend - marketeers
Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage
Still doing 'forensics' on the caching layer – Beeb digi wonk
Speak your brains on SIGNAL-FREE mobile comms firm here
Is goTenna tech a goer? Time to grill CEO, CTO
NBN Co adds apartments to FTTP rollout
Commercial trial locations to go live in September
Samsung Z Tizen OS mobe is post-phoned – this time for good?
Russian launch for Sammy's non-droid knocked back
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.