- TV White Spaces trial, composed of 17 UK and global companies, provides foundation for Britain to lead in fast, reliable rural wireless broadband, better urban Wi-Fi access, and innovative wireless applications, and encourages Ofcom to complete enabling regulations.
CAMBRIDGE, England, April 25, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Following more than 10 months of comprehensive testing in urban and rural areas in and around Cambridge, England, the Cambridge TV White Spaces Consortium, which comprises leading international and UK technology and media companies, has successfully demonstrated the potential of television white spaces. The consortium explored and measured a range of applications — rural wireless broadband, urban pop-up coverage and the emerging "machine-to-machine" communication — and found TV white spaces can be successfully utilised to help satisfy the rapidly accelerating demand for wireless connectivity. The consortium members recommend that the UK regulator Ofcom complete its development of the enabling regulatory framework in a manner that protects licensees from harmful interference and encourages innovation and deployment.
The consortium includes Adaptrum Inc., Alcatel-Lucent, Arqiva, BBC, BSkyB, BT, Cambridge Consultants, CRFS, CSR plc., Digital TV Group (DTG), Microsoft Corp, Neul, Nokia, Samsung, Spectrum Bridge Inc., The Technology Partnership plc. (TTP) and Virgin Media, and it demonstrated unprecedented partnership and collaboration while working closely with Ofcom to ensure that this technology can now be harnessed through a regulatory framework to benefit consumers and further innovation in the UK and beyond.
The consortium issued this statement: "With the rapid rise of mobile broadband and the desire to enable remote areas to enjoy the benefits of broadband, the need for more efficient spectrum use has never been greater. The UK is playing a leading role by exploring the use of licence-exempt access to TV white spaces and developing a model regulatory framework. None of this would have been possible without the support of Ofcom — and the constructive and unprecedented collaboration of the companies involved — to progress this groundbreaking mode of spectrum access."
Commenting today on the TV White Spaces trial, Communications Minister Ed Vaizey said, "I welcome the success to date of the Cambridge White Spaces Trial. Leading innovators from the UK and beyond have demonstrated the potential that television white spaces can have for meeting the UK's broadband needs. Developments such as this endorse the leadership position that the UK can take in enabling more efficient use of spectrum by opening up an array of opportunities for wireless applications for consumers and businesses alike. I find the idea of using white space devices to deliver broadband to rural communities, or to expand the range and quality of urban Wi-Fi hotspots, exciting. This can form a significant contribution to our thinking as we consider how to maximise the value of the spectrum below 1 GHz. I look forward to hearing the next chapter of your progress."
Trial Implementation and Results
The trial analysis found Cambridge has significant television white spaces capacity — 20 white spaces channels corresponding to 160 megahertz in total, of which 13 (104 megahertz) were allowed in the test licence from Ofcom — which can be used to help augment existing broadband networks, extend broadband access to rural areas and allow for machine-to-machine communications. Further, geolocation databases, provided by Microsoft and Spectrum Bridge, proved a reliable way to control frequency use by the white spaces radios and to quickly adapt to changes in spectrum usage by the licensed users.
- City centre coverage. The consortium set up base stations on the north side of the Cambridge city centre in four pubs and a theatre, aiming to provide widespread coverage, including "pop-up" Wi-Fi hotspots. The base stations were connected to dual omnidirectional wide-band antennas mounted on rooftops (radios and antennas provided by Neul), enabling considerably further coverage than could have been achieved with conventional Wi-Fi, in 2.4GHz, for example. The tests showed that TV white spaces can help extend broadband access and offload mobile broadband data traffic. These hotspots can enable users to enjoy data-intensive services such as online video provided by BBC iPlayer and Sky Go during peak usage times, when additional capacity and wider reach is needed.
- Rural connectivity. A base station was installed at TTP's headquarters in Melbourn, a rural community south of Cambridge, and linked to a household in Orwell. The residents benefited from radical improvements in their broadband service, up to 8Mbps net speed achieved over 5.5km links, within an 8 megahertz bandwidth, using a modified, prototype version of the Neul Weightless technology.