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Isle of Arran Gets White Space Radio Powered Broadband

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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Nominet and Broadway Partners plan to extend white space broadband to other parts of Scotland and Wales using unused TV spectrum

The Isle of Arran is to become the first part of the UK to benefit from faster broadband powered by white space technology.

Nominet and Broadway Partners claim the arrival of white space broadband will help narrow the digital divide and aid tourism on the Scottish isle, the population of which swells from 5,000 to 25,000 during the peak visitor season.

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.

White space broadband

isle-of-arran-white-space-3However 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.

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.

On Arran, broadband is received the through an aerial connected to the outside of the property.

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Initially, the Machrie area on the west coast will get the connectivity, which will then spread across the island. Eventually, Nominet and Broadway plan to deliver white space broadband to other parts of Scotland and Wales.

isle-of-arran-white-space-1“The Arran rollout shows that TV white space can reach places that other technologies cannot, and paves the way for further deployment of this dynamic spectrum management technology,” said Russel Haworth, Nominet CEO.

“It’s fantastic to see our proven expertise in new technologies like TV white space is now providing the key building block to help remote areas to finally get online.”

“TV white space has proved its mettle, cutting through hard to reach rural forested areas on Arran which, in fixed wireless terms, is pretty much unheard of,” added Michael Armitage of Broadway Partners. “This technology will be a powerful tool in the drive to deliver affordable broadband access for all communities throughout Scotland and abroad.”

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. A ‘universal service obligation’ (USO) of 10Mbps is currently being consulted on.

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