Monday, February 16, 2009

Cognitive access


Ofcom today published a consultation on enabling cognitive devices to use the interleaved spectrum on a licence-exempt basis. Cognitive devices detect unused spectrum in which they can transmit. This technical document sets out three mechanisms that might be used to detect unused spectrum, namely sensing, geolocation and beacons.

The consultation which closes on the 1 May 2009 can be found here


1.1 Since its launch in 2005, our Digital Dividend Review (DDR) has considered how to make the spectrum freed up by digital switchover (DSO) available for new uses. This includes the capacity available within the spectrum that will be retained to carry the six digital terrestrial television (DTT) multiplexes after DSO. This is known as interleaved spectrum because not all this spectrum in any particular location will be used for DTT and so is available for other services on a shared (or interleaved) basis.

1.2 In our statement of 13 December 2007 on our approach to awarding the digital dividend, we considered the use of interleaved spectrum by licence-exempt applications (i.e. those exempted from the need to be licensed under the Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006 ). We concluded that we should allow cognitive access as long as we were satisfied that it would not cause harmful interference to licensed uses, including DTT and programme-making and special events (PMSE). This could potentially bring substantial benefits to citizens and consumers in the form of new devices and services.

1.3 Cognitive devices can detect spectrum that is otherwise unused and transmit without causing harmful interference. They have the potential to support a wide range of uses, including high-speed always-on broadband and are particularly suited to using interleaved spectrum precisely because significant capacity is often unused at any one location at least some of the time.



U.K. Takes Global Lead on White Spaces; Commits to Use of Vacant TV Spectrum

Wed Feb 6, 2008 3:43pm EST
U.S. Falls Further Behind in Broadband Technology  WASHINGTON, Feb. 6 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In a letter to the Federal Communications Commission, the Wireless Innovation Alliance (WIA) today urged regulators to follow the lead of their British counterparts and allocate TV white spaces to 'benefit the economy and consumers.' In its December 13th Digital Dividend Review, The United Kingdom's Office of Communication (Ofcom) committed to allowing licensed and unlicensed access to TV spectrum freed up by the upcoming transition from analog to digital transmission.  "The United States' position as a leader in innovation and technology hinges on our ability to keep pace with the world," said Brian Peters, a spokesperson for the Alliance, "and today we fall further behind. Ofcom's commitment to realizing the benefits of vacant TV spectrum in the United Kingdom clearly demonstrates that other countries recognize the value and viability of white space technologies and are moving forward without us. Since 2001, the U.S. has fallen from 3rd to 16th in the world in broadband adoption; unlocking the potential of white spaces could be the key to moving back to the top of that list instead of further and further down".

spectrumtalk blog | Friday, December 14, 2007 |  UK's Ofcom Proposes Unlicensed TV White Space Devices

Yesterday, the FCC's UK progressive counterpart, released a long awaited report entitled "Digital Dividend Review:A statement on our approach to awarding the digital dividend". "Digital dividend" is Eurospeak for what happens to TV spectrum after the end of the DTV transition, analogous to the FCC's 700 MHz auctions.

Ofcom stated (in peculiar UK spelling) the following points that I strongly agree with:

This decision matters for several reasons:

  • spectrum is an essential input in the modern world. Its use underpins 3% of the UK’s gross domestic product (GDP) and generates wide reaching benefits for citizens and consumers. But spectrum is a scarce resource, so how it is managed is a critical issue;
  • the spectrum presently used by analogue terrestrial television is exceptional because it can readily be used to provide high bandwidth services over long distances and into buildings; and
  • the opportunity to put this spectrum to new use does not arise often. Analogue television has been its main use for many decades, under a framework that dates back to 1961.
... Under the Communications Act 2003, our duties are to further the interests of citizens and consumers and to secure the optimal use of spectrum. Our objective for the DDR is to award the digital dividend in a way that maximises the total value to society from its future use. This includes value both to citizens and to consumers.

These would be admirable goals in any country.
Then comes the real shocker, the UK counterpart of the FCC's Docket 04-186 proposals for white space/"interleaved spectrum" in UK-speak:

1.34 We propose to allow licence exempt use of interleaved spectrum for cognitive devices. Some licence exempt uses are able to coexist successfully with higher power licensed uses. Cognitive radio is a new technology that can detect spectrum that is otherwise unused and transmit without causing harmful interference. It has the potential to support a wide range of uses, including high speed always on broadband. It is particularly suited to operating in interleaved spectrum, where significant capacity is often unused at any one location at least some of the time.


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