Radio Data 01011011 to kick off post-2015
Ofcom is looking to use “white space” in the 87.5 to 107MHz spectrum band now used by FM radio stations for data traffic.
FM radio is good at penetrating buildings. This makes it ideal for use with smart meters and other embedded devices which will need that kind of carrying power, unless they are hard-wired to the terrestrial network.
But they could also offer long distance access to rural broadband customers, albeit at relatively pedestrian data rates.
Ofcom thinks the system could work like Wi-fi, but the white space router or base station would first need to check online to see what frequencies and power level it can use to avoid interfering with other devices in the vicinity.
Br0kenTeleph0n3 asked Ofcom a few more questions.
How much spectrum?
As much as 50% of the capacity currently used to deliver FM radio services. This could be up to 10MHz.
When will it be available?
Government is responsible for setting a digital radio switchover date, but it is unlikely to be until second half of this decade.
Are licence fees payable, if so by whom?
Currently undecided and this is something we’d need to consult on. One option could be making the spectrum available on an unlicensed basis – or a mixture of licensed and unlicensed.
What data rates can be achieved?
Could offer as much as 10Mbps – but this depends on factors such as number of connections, distance and power.
Is anyone making the transceiver kit?
Not yet. However, there is lots of activity in the UHF band to develop equipment. And the same could feasibly start to happen in the FM band.