Following the broadband money

Radio Data 01011011 to kick off post-2015

with 6 comments

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.


Written by Br0kenTeleph0n3

2011/07/07 at 21:47

6 Responses

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  1. Trust you to get the facts! Am glad you do.
    Pedestrian data rates. says it all.


    2011/07/07 at 21:50

  2. Wouldn’t it make more sense to encourage energy companies to become anchor tenants on rural nga broadband networks using the capabilities of ALA, rather than suggest they wait several more years for a lesser technology which will further dent the case for investing in rural areas. Ofcom really needs to think this sort of thing through!

    Adrian Wooster

    2011/07/07 at 22:19

    • With ALA, doesn’t setting the floor at a lit infrastructure level risk entrenching the artificial scarcity problem though?

      Guy Jarvis

      2011/07/08 at 01:39

      • Guy – please explain.


        2011/07/09 at 07:36

    • Given that I know zero about ALA (active line access) it’s hard to say. Yoiu need to tell us what’s in it for the rest of us.

      Ian Grant

      2011/07/08 at 21:45

  3. I know we could easily get 30Mbps+ over a 10 MHz channel (well nearer 8 MHz occupied) so there is some scope for use of this low VHF band. However its large coverage area would really limit the scope for NGA type services and frequency re-use. If we stuck a ~ 100MHz Access node on one point of our network then we could provide access to most of the south east from it . The laws of physics would cut in before that became more than a few hundred subs though.

    I suspect the french will have something to say about digital use of that band too, unless they are going “digital” for their broadcast radio too 🙂

    Bill Lewis

    2011/07/10 at 19:08

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