BT Takes White Space Trial To Cornwall

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

BT expands testing of white space technology after confirming it will hold a trial in Cornwall

BT is to extend its white space technology trial into Cornwall in the summer, as the UK carrier seeks to gain a better understanding of how the technology can be used to deliver broadband services into remote rural locations.

White space technology essentially makes use of unused bits of spectrum to do with digital TV signals and one of the most important aspects of any trials regarding white space technology is to demonstrate that using white space spectrum for mobile broadband networks will not interfere with TV transmissions.

White Space Trials

BT has already experimented with white space technology, after it was revealed in June 2011 that it was part of a consortium that included Microsoft and the BBC that would test “white space” spectrum in the English university town of Cambridge.

BT told TechweekEurope however that that Cambridge testing is more to do with machine-to-machine communications using white space technology.

BT, working in conjunction with the University of Strathclyde and the BBC, is currently conducting a small-scale trial of white space technology on the Isle of Bute up in south west Scotland, specifically for the ‘broadcasting’ of broadband services into that remote location.

High ‘Ca-pasty’ Cornwall

“BT can confirm it is planning to extend its trial of TV White Space to Cornwall following a successful initial trial on the Isle of Bute,” said BT in an emailed statement. “The Bute trial has generated some encouraging results and so it is time to extend it to a larger audience and to test the technology further.”

“The new trial will take place in the same area in which we have been testing LTE (long term evolution) technology with Everything Everywhere,” said BT. “Those tests produced encouraging results and so the new trial will give us the chance to make a direct comparison between the two technologies. This will also help us understand more about how a commercial service could work in practice.”

“BT believes the number of broadband ‘slow spots’ will comprise between 2 and 3 percent of UK homes in the next five years, and that these alternative technologies could improve the broadband speeds that such areas will be able to receive,” the carrier told TechWeekEurope.

BT And Cornwall

Cornwall is absorbing a lot of BT attention and resources at the moment. In September 2010 BT said it would provide superfast broadband to 90 percent of homes in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, using a combination of its own and European funding, and in March 2011 BT said that it had connected more than 1,000 Cornish homes and businesses to its superfast broadband services.

But obviously some parts of the county are proving difficult to reach via fixed-line, hence BT’s trials with both LTE and now white space technology. But why is BT experimenting with white space technology in Cornwall, when it is already trialling LTE?

Well TechWeekEurope understands that both technologies have their own merits as the connecting technology for the final third where fixed-line is problematic. This is because of certain factors that could influence which technology is used. For example there are distance issues with LTE, so at the end of the day BT’s trial is to gauge what technology makes the best financial sense in a particular area.

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