Feeds

Jocks strap into new gov-funded White Space boffinry base

Silicon Glen is after Silicon Fen's smart radio tech

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

The Scottish Funding Council has bunged Strathclyde University cash to set up a boffinry base to develop cunning uses of spare radio frequencies known as White Space.

The technology aims to put unused spectrum to good use by dynamically assigning empty airwaves to wireless microphones and such things. It is hoped to enable plenty of no-fuss short-range ad-hoc communications in the gaps left by switched-off analogue TV and other holes. In theory.

To work, databases that know which frequencies are available and where must be built. Then a White Space hub device calculates its location, using GPS or similar, and checks with a database on what frequencies are empty locally. Client devices listen for the hub's transmission and lock onto those empty frequencies, while the hub checks the database regularly in case of changes.

It's not clear how much money from the public purse is going into the university's new White Space centre. But there will be enough to get it started and kick off research into what is probably the most important development in wireless since the invention of frequency modulation.

The centre was opened by communications minister Ed Vaizey, with reps from the university to talk about how marvellous it all was. Microsoft, BT Openreach, Ofcom and Sky sent their own bods over the border to talk about the technical aspects; Neul came up from Cambridge to show the technology in action and various home-county consultancies pitched in.

Although the UK is a leading light in White Space research right now, the work is clustered around Camby in the east of England. The Scottish government wants to create a similar congregation around Strathclyde, which is a laudable aim considering how important White Space networking is going to be, especially in rural Scotland.

Not that Strathclyde is entirely without White Space experiments: the university's Bob Stewart has been running a connection to the Isle of Bute for the last few years, successfully backhauling the island's Wi-Fi over a White-Space connection without knocking out local TV reception. But that deployment lacks the database element which is critical to widespread use of White Space.

Not that the UK's lead will last long: communications watchdog Ofcom is busy running our 4G auction so legislation to permit general use of White Space radio isn't progressing as fast as it could. France has started issuing test licences and other countries are experimenting with the technology, but it’s the logistics of licensing the databases and enforcing limitations which is the biggest challenge, and for that we'll have to hope that Ofcom is up to the job.

First deployments of the wireless tech is already happening in America, are using old television broadcast frequencies, but the model can, and will, be applied across the entire spectrum so it's well worth researching. ®

Business security measures using SSL

More from The Register

next story
Brit telcos warn Scots that voting Yes could lead to HEFTY bills
BT and Co: Independence vote likely to mean 'increased costs'
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Blockbuster book lays out the first 20 years of the Smartphone Wars
Symbian's David Wood bares all. Not for the faint hearted
Bonking with Apple has POUNDED mobe operators' wallets
... into submission. Weve squeals, ditches payment plans
This flashlight app requires: Your contacts list, identity, access to your camera...
Who us, dodgy? Vast majority of mobile apps fail privacy test
Apple Watch will CONQUER smartwatch world – analysts
After Applelocalypse, other wristputers will get stuck in
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.