The use of spare FM radio spectrum for broadband could be a reality in six years' time, offering speeds of 10Mbit/s or faster as the technology looks to become a key part of the UK's broadband landscape, according to Ofcom.
The switch to digital audio broadcasting will occur on services from the BBC and other national and regional broadcasters in the 87.6 to 94.6 FM band, with local stations left on FM pushed into the higher range.
This would open up around 6MHz of free spectrum that could offer internet access to those in remote regions, given the long-range signal strength of the FM band.
David Harrison, director of technical strategy at Ofcom, told V3.co.uk that these networks could be live by 2017, although he stressed that this is speculative as the government has not set a firm date for the switchover of FM stations.
A launch in 2017 would come too late to meet the government's goal of providing the entire population with 2Mbit/s access and 90 per cent with 25Mbit/s or above by 2015.
Nevertheless, Harrison said that the technology has the potential to deliver broadband of speeds in excess of the 2Mbit/s limit to almost the entire population, and offers benefits over LTE services.
"In very rural areas where broadband access is almost non-existent a hamlet of some 10 to 20 households could get north of 10Mbit/s on white space devices, taking broadband coverage to over 99 per cent of the population," he said.
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