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Communications Networking Television United Kingdom Wireless Networking

UK To Get Whitespace Radio 71

Posted by samzenpus
from the in-the-ditch dept.
judgecorp writes "The UK's telecom regulator, Ofcom, will approve whitespace radio, allowing systems that use vacant spaces in the TV broadcast spectrum on the same 'license' exempt basis as Wi-Fi. It is hoped that white space radio will solve the rural broadband crisis in the country. From the article: 'Ofcom hopes for deployments by 2013, putting the UK ahead of other countries, and proposes it be used for a higher-power variant of Wi-Fi as well as for rural broadband connections and machine-to-machine communication.'"
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UK To Get Whitespace Radio

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  • by LordLimecat (1103839) on Friday September 02, 2011 @03:03AM (#37283402)

    But arent "crises" usually time-sensitive issues which generally have gotten worse? Seems a bit much to call "some people continue to be without internet" a crisis.

    Sorry, but language "inflation" bothers me, it devalues words.

    • by wierd_w (1375923)

      It might contribute to an education or information delivery crisis. (That crisis being that the reduced commincation infrastructure is creating local pockets of populations that are so poorly educated as to be an outstanding burden on the rest of the country. Ignoring the infrastucture problem would only worsen the crisis.)

      Not saying that is the case- more likely just media hyperbole- but possible in theory. I don't know much about the uk's telecom system to know.

      • BS (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Viol8 (599362) on Friday September 02, 2011 @05:09AM (#37283844)

        "hat crisis being that the reduced commincation infrastructure is creating local pockets of populations that are so poorly educated"

        I'm sorry , what? Schools have these things called "teachers" who teach the children and I think you'll find people in the country are very WELL educated because they have decent schools with teachers who can teach and don't just dump kids in front of a PC. Its in the inner city - where good broadband services are available - where you'll find a lot more of the idiotic and lazy kids.

        • In fact the rural poor do significantly worse than the urban poor in England, and the gap is greater the further you get from the big cities. I can think of at least two reasons for this: rural schools are less well funded than urban schools, and access to pre-school and nursery care is worse in rural areas.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Surely the main pockets of poorly educated people in Britain are not in the countryside but in inner cities? There is no doubt that the lack of rural broadband provision has an effect on business and commerce but I don't believe it can be blamed for poor educational standards.

        • I actually think that a lack of an internet connection might be helpful, in some respects.

          When I first encountered computers, they did very little that was interesting unless you engaged with the machine and learned something about how it worked. In contrast, a modern PC with an internet connection is pretty much an endless fount of effortless entertainment. My 7 year old daughter seems to do little other with it than playing Flash games. Now, some of them are educational, but I don't see any that actually

        • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Friday September 02, 2011 @07:23AM (#37284322) Journal

          Surely the main pockets of poorly educated people in Britain are not in the countryside but in inner cities?

          They are in both. My mother used to teach in North Devon. Lots of the children that she taught were the offspring of people who had left school at 16 or maybe 18 and been unemployed for their entire lives. Teaching children who live in an environment where learning is not valued is very challenging.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      But arent "crises" usually time-sensitive issues which generally have gotten worse? Seems a bit much to call "some people continue to be without internet" a crisis.

      Sorry, but language "inflation" bothers me, it devalues words.

      But arent "crises" usually time-sensitive issues which generally have gotten worse? Seems a bit much to call "some people continue to be without internet" a crisis.

      Sorry, but language "inflation" bothers me, it devalues words.

      The crisis is that there are people in the UK that currently can't be tracked through their internet usage. This needs to change!

    • by Canazza (1428553)

      Language Inflation leads to eventual massive understatement.
      For example, detonating a nuclear warhead in London would be considered "problematic" or "terrible" as opposed to "catastrophic" or "calamatous".
      You know the shits hit the fan when hyperbole can't convey the issue properly.

      • by AGMW (594303)
        ... and I guess we'd be in line for an eight day silence to mark our respect!
    • by JanneM (7445)

      The consequences of being without access are rapidly getting worse though. As recently as five years ago, internet access was a small luxury along the lines of having cable television. Today it's rapidly approaching the point where net access will rival having a place of residence in importance for your everyday life.

    • It's easy to say that in your cushy broadband filled world. If you lived in the countryside in the UK and couldn't even get 1Mbps internet it would be a crisis for you too. Anyone without high speed internet is definitely being left behind in the ongoing technical revolution. You can easily (and legally) save hundreds of pounds a year while retaining the same quality of life by having a good net connection, and for some people that in itself is a big deal.

      • by Viol8 (599362)

        "If you lived in the countryside in the UK and couldn't even get 1Mbps internet it would be a crisis for you too."

        Oh please. Turn off your hyperbole-o-matic. Most people in the country either work on the land or commute to an office in a town. In the former case the internet is hardly a major requirement for their daily existence and in the latter they'll probably have net access at work , in neither case is there a "crisis". Perhaps to you an obvious net addict like you it would be but we're not talking ab

        • by digitig (1056110)
          The internet is pretty much essential for those who work on the land, too. Modern agriculture and husbandry isn't the world of Beatrix Potter any more. And the lack of internet hits other workers, too. The head office of the company I work for used to be in an area where they couldn't get broadband. It didn't matter when they were set up 30 years ago, but it matters now so they've relocated to somewhere that they can get access, moving jobs away from what was already a depressed area.
          • by Viol8 (599362)

            "The internet is pretty much essential for those who work on the land, too."

            Bollocks. Do you actually know any farmers? I do. Believe me, when they're dipping the sheep they don't really care if they can access iPlayer or not. The internet might be a nice-to-have where they can look up work related issues but it is no way an essential.

            "Modern agriculture and husbandry isn't the world of Beatrix Potter any more"

            No , it isn't. But you don't need the internet to use a tractor or sell your goods especially if y

            • by digitig (1056110)

              "The internet is pretty much essential for those who work on the land, too."

              Bollocks. Do you actually know any farmers? I do.

              So do I. Quite a few of my family are farmers.

              Believe me, when they're dipping the sheep they don't really care if they can access iPlayer or not.

              And nor do I when I'm doing engineering consultancy. But farmers are in business, and a heavily regulated business at that, with very narrow margins. Ready and efficient access to suppliers, customers, regulators and funding bodies is likely to be the difference between profit and loss. That makes it essential.

              • So do I. Quite a few of my family are farmers.

                AH, I see, so because they found it necessary to have internet, clearly all farmers must. No way others might get along just fine without it.

                • by digitig (1056110)
                  It's about the same merit as your argument that because some do without it it's not essential to any. Simply, it matters to those running the farms, so although those working the farm don't use it, the viability of the farm they work on (and with that their jobs) probably depends on it.
                  • If it is vital to their job, they already have it, or they wouldnt have a job (and I would argue relying on it in an area of poor infrastructure is a really bad decision). If theyre not relying on it, they dont need it as an emergency measure.

                    Im not saying none of this stuff is good for progress, but it is not necessary by any stretch of the imagination. Farmers have been doing this stuff for centuries without internet, and continue to to this day.

                    • by digitig (1056110)

                      If it is vital to their job, they already have it, or they wouldnt have a job

                      They're not competitive with places that have it. They can hold out, but will slowly go under.

                      (and I would argue relying on it in an area of poor infrastructure is a really bad decision).

                      Yes, it's so daft having farms in rural areas, isn't it? They'd be so much more efficient in city centres.

                      Farmers have been doing this stuff for centuries without internet, and continue to to this day.

                      Again, you don't seem to understand how much farming has changed.

            • by Gordonjcp (186804)

              Bollocks. Do you actually know any farmers?

              Yes, I actually am a farmer. High-speed internet access is more important than you'd expect. We spend a lot of time buying and selling livestock, and doing it over fast reliable internet connections takes a lot of the hassle out of it. We buy fuel and materials online, because it's cheaper and quicker than trailing around various different suppliers.

              I probably spend more time online working on farm-related stuff than I used to on webdev-related stuff when I did that ;-)

              • Sounds like you used to be involved in technology; its not suprising that you would continue to use it for an undeniable advantage as a farmer.

                But that really doesnt mean its a crisis if all farmers in a region dont have internet, as a good number still do things as they always have. Just because its a convenience to you, doenst mean you NEED it or that anyone else does in order to do their job.

                • by Gordonjcp (186804)

                  It's a pain in the arse, though. Why do people who live in cities need fast internet connections? It's not really a crisis for them if they can't get online, since they are going to be spending all their time walking to bus stops and travelling to the CBD to do their shopping...

          • Modern agriculture and husbandry isn't the world of Beatrix Potter any more.

            Funny, I knew a number of them (part of my extended family), and I dont recall internet ever being super important for what they did.

            The internet as we know it has been around for about 15 years or so (in terms of consumer access and all the rest). What has happened in that time that makes you think farmers HAVE to have internet in order to grow and sell their crops, or to raise and sell cattle?

            • Fincancial news, weather forecasts available on a farmer's schedule instead of a commuter's, and local BBS-type fora for discussing local issues without driving into town or paying for conference calls. WebMD's veterinary equivalent for fixing cow problems. News about animal disease epidemics. Articles about best practices for pest control, antibiotics in feed, etc. Modern farming is pretty complex.
              • WebMD makes it so the local vet is no longer capable of doing his job? (for that matter, whens the last time you skipped going to a doctor for WebMD-- for me its been never)
                Farmers need to use BBSes?
                The TV isnt capable of doing weather forecasts?

                These things just arent necessities.

      • It's easy to say that in your cushy broadband filled world. If you lived in the countryside in the UK and couldn't even get 1Mbps internet it would be a crisis for you too.

        Not if id never had 1mbps internet, and not by any reasonable definition of the word crisis.

        Anyone without high speed internet is definitely being left behind in the ongoing technical revolution.

        Meaningless buzz-word alert. What about this technological revolution necessitates my stepfather in the deep south having a broadband connection? Is there any reason he and his family absolutely need internet to continue doing the things theyve done for years?

        • No. If everyone thought like that, we'd still all be sleeping in caves and dying at 25.

          • Just because you want to push for improvement and progress doesnt mean you need to demean legitimate crisis (like imminent threat of death for a population, or war, or famine) by equating it with "do not have internet".

            Seriously, get some perspective.

    • by Eivind (15695)

      Agree with your general point - that it's silly to haul out the linguistic heavy guns for the purpose of shooting sparrows.

      I do think something can become a crisis, without getting worse though.

      Lacking adequate internet-connection isn't really a crisis - but it is a problem that becomes larger as the Internet grows in importance. If you where without broadband a decade ago, and you're still without broadband, then that particular problem is growing - despite your connectivity being the same it always was.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Not to be "insensitive"?

      Too late. It's called "whitespace".

      Just how racist and insensitive can one get?

  • The lack of a requirement to operate under a license will only make a mess of the available spectrum, exactly as it is with both 2.4 and 5.8 GHz wifi. In places where there are many competing WISPs, nothing actually works, because all of them are interfering with each others’ access points. The licenses should be essentially free, but at the same time the number of operators in a given area should be limited. The thing about rural areas is that there are not many potential customers there, so installi
    • by Stellian (673475)

      ... the company that would get the license should not have to worry about interference from their competition ...

      Thank you very much for your proposal. May I inform you that we already have huge chunks of spectrum that are being auctioned off exclusively to a certain company for many years. In fact, it's the standard way to allocate the spectrum. Once they get that licence, they don't need to worry about competition - it's illegal to compete with them for the spectrum, pound-me-in-the-ass-3-to-7-illegal.

      Needless to say, that didn't work so well for rural coverage. I say a bit of open competition is more than welcome,

    • by TheSync (5291)

      Agreed - we have enough interference problems to work out among licensed broadcast television stations in the US already! The industry is still maximizing transmitter power and moving around antennas after the transition from analog to digital (I know a station finally moving on to Sutro Tower with their full-power DTV signal next week, for instance), and on a daily basis working out interference problems.

      Even for non-co-channel interference, Intermodulation product problems in DTV receiver circuits abound

  • What do they consider rural in the UK? Is there any truly rural space left in the British Isles? I hate to think what large swathes of Australia, Canada and the USA where plenty of people live might be considered.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Rural just means outside of towns and whatnot. When you need to be within ~5km of the telephone exchange for broadband its easy to classify various pockets of countryside as rural, even if they're only 10km from the nearest town / telephone exchange
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      rural in this instant means too far by copper from local exchange for decent adsl speeds. remember a lot of the uk telephone network is very very old simply because of how early we adopted the telephone. My dad was a GPO (predecessor of BT) engineer in the 70's and I have memories of going into a small (8'x6') hut at the end of the village playing field which was full of electromechanical telecoms switches and was the villages exchange. The following year it was replaced with a larger exchange due to the bu

    • by Chrisq (894406)

      What do they consider rural in the UK? Is there any truly rural space left in the British Isles? I hate to think what large swathes of Australia, Canada and the USA where plenty of people live might be considered.

      Yes there is some. Some parts of The Scottish Highlands [google.co.uk] are really remote. And of course there are uninhabited islands [wikipedia.org].

    • Re:Rural? UK? ATFS? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Alioth (221270) <no@spam> on Friday September 02, 2011 @07:11AM (#37284270) Journal

      Don't confuse "rural" with "remote". It is entirely possible to live in a very rural area of South East England, and SE England has generally a very high population density.

      I'm guessing you're from the United States or Canada where there's lots of territory that is "remote", and in urban areas the suburban sprawl is so huge that a city of 4M people covers a colossal area. But in the UK cities are very compact and "green belt" legislation has prevented many cities from expanding much, and has pretty much stopped suburban sprawl completely dead. Therefore the urban areas are very compact. It's very evident that when you fly over the UK, there are vast areas of rural green space. Just because it's not remote doesn't make it not rural. Much of these rural areas are far enough away from a telephone exchange that you'll have performance problems with a 56K modem and ADSL just isn't a viable proposition. However, they aren't "remote" and therefore (for the most part) can be easily be provisioned by radio signals.

      Once you get north of Manchester, the population density really drops off, too, and as you get further into Scotland you do find remote, hard-to-get-to areas. While not as remote as, say, northern Alaska, they are remote enough that if you get caught there in a winter storm without good equipment you're very likely to die. The population isn't evenly spread around Great Britain by any stretch of the imagination.

  • The Jodrell Bank Observatory [wikipedia.org] has made man many world-class discoveries. Will it be blinded now the whole spectrum is to be filled?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    If you're going to put it in apostrophes as though it's a quotation, then spell it as the source would: licence. In British English, "license" is a verb, and "licence" is the noun.

  • The telcos have far too much control over the FCC to allow sometime like this to happen.

    Im surprised wifi was allowed 'out of the labs', with the potential for neighborhood mesh networks.

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