Ofcom announces Whitespace trial

Ofcom the super regulator is planning to hold a Whitespace trial later in the year. Whitespace is just spectrum that is not used in certain areas as it may interfere with other services in neighbouring areas (such as TV station broadcasts, the country is divided into areas such that neighbouring TV broadcasting transmitters don't use the same frequencies as their neighbours).

The unused spectrum is therefore 'wasted', but with careful management, can be used for localised services such as wireless broadband.

Neul is a technology leader based out of Cambridge (spun out of Cambridge Silicon Radio or CSR, now owned by Samsung) and already have systems available to use whitespace frequencies. Neul even have a chipset available for end-user devices.

There are (and have been) several whitespace trials, but these have been limited to localised technology trials.

One of the features that is required for whitespace to work is a centralised database of locations, frequencies and power levels. Generally there will be a central base station which will have to contact the database and report its position and it can then use that information to select the frequencies and power levels to use. End-user devices will just scan the whitespace bands and look for a carrier and can just use that as a base, from which it can then retrieve information about what other frequencies to use.

A quirk of the system is that Ofcom has mandated a kill switch so that if interference with commercial TV or other is found, all devices using whitespace can be shut-off in an area.

Ofcom has not specified how the database should be implemented, just the queries and responses that should be supported, it will be up to the market to decide how to implement. Database operators will be able to charge for running the service (again not specified, but it may be based on queries of the database).

This trial will again test the technology but also database implementations etc.

Ofcom's statement is on-line and any interested party wishing to take place in the trial can email TV.WhiteSpaces@ofcom.org.uk

Ofcom consultation on Automotive Short Range Devices

Ofcom is holding a consultation as it is proposing changing the Wireless Telegraphy Act for Automotive Short Range Devices (SRDs) that currently operate in the 24GHz band in line with EU harmonised spectrum policy.

Current SRDs operate in 24 GHz (21.65 to 26.65 GHz) and existing devices in vehicles can continue to use these frequencies until 2018, however new equipment will now have to support the range 24.25 to 26.65 GHz.

The current license exemption for 21.65 to 26.65 GHz SRDs will be revoked on 30 June 2013, except for devices that were installed in cars between 1 July 2005 and 30 June 2013 in which case they can continue to use this band.

After 30 June 2013, SRDs will need to operate in 24.25 to 26.65 GHz and this band will be made license exempt.

The full statement is available here and the on-line consultation for interested stakeholders here.


Android apps must play nicely

Google has updated its terms and conditions so that all apps on the Play store must use Google's update mechanisms and are not allowed to directly update themselves.

This will directly affect Facebook's Android app, which had a persistent message displayed to users that a new version was available and took the user to a download link directly from Facebook.

Forcing users to only update through Google Play is a good move as it also allows Google to ensure apps can be removed from the store and thus users will no longer be able to access updates, which is especially useful if they are found to have malicious code or break other T&Cs. It also allows Google to track downloads etc.

Duedil goes premium

Duedil, the site that is becoming the site to visit for company information has started offering premium payment options for access to some of it's services. It has been possible to download company reports on a pay-as-you go basis, but now it's possible to download company credit reports, official company documents, CSV financial table downloads and more using pre=paid credits. Members who subscribe are also given an ad free experience.

It's possible to subscribe on a monthly or annual basis which give the following options: -

FeatureMonthly £24.99 pmAnnual £249.99 pa
Document downloads500 pmunlimited
Credit Reports15 pm180 pa
CSV account downloads5- pm600 pa

All of Duedil's basic services will remain free and users can still access a wealth of information without paying for anything, however the new paid for services will now give the company a nice revenue stream which should see them well into the future.