Wireless broadband trial over TV spectrum completed

The TV White Spaces Consortium has successfully completed trials in using TV spectrum to deliver wireless broadband to rural areas around Cambridge.

Share

The TV White Spaces Consortium has successfully completed trials in using TV spectrum to deliver wireless broadband to rural areas around Cambridge.

The consortium, comprising 17 companies including Microsoft, Alcatel-Lucent, BBC, BSkyB, BT, Nokia, Samsung and Virgin Media, is now lobbying telecommunications regulator Ofcom to open up the spectrum for commercial use.

The TV White Spaces Consortium believes that television white spaces - the gaps between broadcasting channels - can be successfully used to help satisfy the rapidly accelerating demand for wireless connectivity, particularly in rural areas where there is little broadband.

The white spaces can also be used to deliver other services in urban areas, such as standard Wi-Fi, location-based retail marketing services, and wireless machine-to-machine (M2M) communications.

The consortium wants Ofcom to open up the spectrum for unlicensed use, like the 2.4GHz channel that is used for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth communications, among other services.

The consortium said: "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."

Communications minister Ed Vaizey said: “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."

Before the consortium trials were completed, Ofcom had already begun a consultation on the future use of spectrum bands 600Mhz and 700Mhz, and had suggested that the UK reserves them for mobile broadband needs.

These lower bands are in high demand due to being able to provide better quality of service in difficult to reach indoor and outdoor locations, and have been made available following the digital switchover from analogue TV.