Green light for TV white space technology – Simon McCalla

12th February 2015

Ofcom have today announced that they are going ahead with a UK-wide ‘TV white space’ network. This new network will use the radio spectrum freed up by the closing down of the analogue TV signals. Instead of auctioning this spectrum to the highest bidder, Ofcom have decided to allow anyone to use these frequencies, free of charge. This opens up exciting possibilities in the short-term for connecting grids of sensors together and in the long-term for devices to talk directly to each other and to act together to share information.

We’ve been involved in the UK internet infrastructure from its early days. As things evolve, an ongoing connection with new technologies is essential to help us create an ‘internet of tomorrow’ that supports a thriving digital economy. This is why over the last couple of years, we’ve been working on the draft specifications, through being accredited as one of the first TV white space database providers, to today, where we are partnering with Oxford-based LoveHz and Adaptrum to build a city-wide flood network*. We see TV white space as a key enabler to the much talked about ‘Internet of Things’: a network of connected devices, machines and services that will allow us to make smarter societal and commercial decisions.

As a domain name registry, handling 4 billion DNS queries per day, we recognise the important role we play in the UK’s internet infrastructure. It’s a role that we take very seriously and we have watched over the years how internet usage patterns have changed, from simple website browsing, to much more complex and multi-faceted ways of accessing data and services. This has meant that our relationship with the humble, yet vital domain name has changed, with many people accessing information without ever realising there’s a domain sitting behind the service or phone-app that they are using.

The Internet of Things, just like its parent, the good old fashioned ‘internet’ is an exciting and vibrant space, with many new technologies being developed and competing for attention. The ways in which we might address the billions of new connected sensors and devices is still up for debate. Some say that the IPv6 protocol is the answer, whilst others have proposed that peer-to-peer naming systems and others may be a more flexible solution.

As a DNS registry, we have always worked behind the scenes to help develop open, flexible protocols that have been the backbone of internet communications over the past 20 years. Our work on TV white space carries on this approach, helping to explore and steer new possibilities for addressing the internet of the future. We hope to remain as vibrant and relevant in the next 20 years as we have over the last. Today’s announcement brings an exciting new evolution in communications for the UK, and continues to underline the UK’s presence as one of the foremost innovators in internet technology. We can’t wait to see what this will bring.

* We’d also like to thank Hogacre Common for their continued support in hosting the TV white space pilot and Oxford Flood Network trials at their eco-park.