BT trials white-space broadband on Bute

BT trials white-space broadband on Bute

Summary: BT is trialling the use of the so-called white spaces between TV broadcasts for the delivery of high-speed broadband, the company has revealed.On Tuesday, BT Openreach said it was conducting the trial on the Isle of Bute in Scotland, with partners including the University of Strathclyde, BBC Research and Development, Steepest Ascent, Berg Design and Netpropagate.

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TOPICS: Telcos
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BT is trialling the use of the so-called white spaces between TV broadcasts for the delivery of high-speed broadband, the company has revealed.

On Tuesday, BT Openreach said it was conducting the trial on the Isle of Bute in Scotland, with partners including the University of Strathclyde, BBC Research and Development, Steepest Ascent, Berg Design and Netpropagate. It said the government's Technology Strategy Board was providing funding.

The Isle Of Bute. Credit: Nasa

White spaces are the bits of spectrum in the TV-oriented 400-800MHz band that are left unused by broadcasters, so as to avoid interference between transmissions. There is an increasingly active movement looking to exploit this spectrum — kit-maker Neul said this week that there is 150MHz available in the UK — for broadband services.

Broadband carried over this spectrum has a very good range, so is seen as ideal for delivering connectivity to rural areas that have no or very slow connectivity.

"The initial results have been very promising with the technology being tested over long distances and challenging terrain," BT said in a statement. "Further tests are required however and so live trials are due to commence in July with approximately a dozen end users across the island."

According to BT, the customers in the live trial will have their wireless service linked back to the exchange building at Kilchattan Bay, "from where a dedicated radio link to the mainland will provide broadband internet access".

Topic: Telcos

David Meyer

About David Meyer

David Meyer is a freelance technology journalist. He fell into journalism when he realised his musical career wouldn't pay the bills. David's main focus is on communications, as well as internet technologies, regulation and mobile devices.

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  • I am a resident in a remote area in Dumfriesshire (Eskdalemuir DG13 0PQ). My residence and farm cottages are more than 6 miles from the local BT exchange. Broadband communication is limited via a satellite dish to only a few megabites.

    I wish to increase the speed and provide a broadband service to the cottages for summer letting. The experiment in the Isle of Bute seems suited to conditions in Eskdalemuir.
    Can you let us have details if it possible to use these new frequencies with a simple box and tv aerial?

    Lord Tanlaw of Tanlawhill
    lordtanlaw
  • The good news is that white space is ideally suited to your situation. The bad news is that nobody's committed to providing a commercial service yet, and the economics make it unattractive on a purely commercial basis. A legal requirement for universal access could change that, but such things are not currently fashionable.

    On the technical side, an installation would include a small box much like (and probably including) an ordinary Wi-Fi router.

    It'll almost certainly need its own aerial fitted outside the house. Electrically,TV aerials that are already installed could theoretically do the job - most standard TV aerial designs are as good at transmitting your signal to a base station as they are receiving from it- but practically they won't work. In remote areas, TV aerials are tuned to the TV channels to be received, for efficiency, and highly directional, for distance. White space systems work on TV channels that aren't in use in the area, to cut down on interference, and are unlikely to be co-mounted on existing TV transmitter masts where there's a huge amount of radio energy right next door, so to speak, to the receivers that the white space system will be using to pick up the faint signals from its subscribers. So your existing TV aerials will be tuned to the wrong frequency and pointing the wrong way.

    Also, TV aerials tend to exhibits all sorts of faults, especially after they've been exposed to the elements for some time (elements which, in rural Scotland, take few prisoners): these don't matter very much for reception but cause havoc for transmission. It's highly unlikely the white space providers, should they emerge, will want to support installations that aren't connected to an approved, new aerial, properly installed.

    (There are other factors too, but I hope you get the picture!)

    Rupert
    rupert.goodwins@...