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TV White Space Tech Brings Wireless Superfast Broadband To Loch Ness

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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TV White Spaces will deliver superfast broadband to areas not covered by fibre to the cabinet using Nominet’s spectrum database

TV White Spaces (TVWS) will be used to provide broadband services to residents and tourists in Loch Ness suffering from slow speeds.

The government-funded Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) project has covered parts of the area, including Dochgarroch, Dores, Drumnadrochit, Foyers, Glenmoriston, Glenurquhart and Fort Augustus, but not all of the villages surrounding the loch.

Nominet and Broadway Partners say they were approached by the local community who had hoped wireless could help fill in the gaps.

Loch Ness

White Space Loch Ness

“This project is particularly exciting because, while virtually everybody has heard of Loch Ness, few outside the area realise just how poorly served it is for broadband,” said Michael Armitage, Founder Director of Broadway Partners . “TV white space technology allows us to reach communities and businesses that are beyond the reach of conventional wireless, and we are thrilled to be able to help locals and visitors alike get connected.”

White space radio uses gaps in the 470- 790 MHz frequencies reserved for Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) and wireless microphones, choosing particular frequencies which are not occupied in a given location because of the pattern of TV transmitters.

However because the availability of white space radio spectrum depends on location, power level and the time of day, regulator Ofcom is maintaining a database on where the white spaces are and the power level that devices would need to be restricted to if they want to use them.

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Trials have seen Wi-Fi tested on boats in Orkney and the Isle of Wight and sensors used to determine the risks of flood in Oxford. White space has also been used to stream live video at London Zoo.

Because white spaces can travel further than Bluetooth or conventional Wi-Fi signals, M2M, rural broadband and urban capacity are all seen as areas which could benefit from the technology.

Nominet and Broadway Partners have already connected the Isle of Arran using TVWS as well as Llanarth in Wales.

“Few places represent more of a challenge for deploying fixed broadband infrastructure than the Scottish Highlands, and we’re delighted to be able to put TV white space to the test in this way,” added Simon McCalla, Nominet CTO. “It absolutely proves the value of spectrum sharing, which is key to enabling us to deliver this kind of service in a responsive and effective way.”

The government is committed to bringing superfast broadband to 95 percent of the UK population by the end of 2017, with ‘alternative technologies’ such as satellite and white space filling in as many of the gaps as possible.

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