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Ofcom Names Participants for its UK White Space Wireless Broadband Trial

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013 (12:58 pm) - Score 1,212

The UK telecoms regulator has today named around 20 organisations, which include the likes of BT, Neul and Microsoft, that will be taking part in its 6 month pilot of White Space (IEEE 802.22) wireless broadband technology; this intelligently harnesses the unused spectrum gaps that exist between Digital Terrestrial TV (DTTV) channels.

Each organisation will be testing a variety of different applications, such as sensors that monitor the behaviour of cities, dynamic information for road users and broadband delivery for hard to reach rural communities (the latter has already been tested several times by BT and others with mixed success) or moving vehicles.

At the same time Ofcom has also published a blueprint for how it plans to manage the UK’s radio spectrum over the next 10 to 15 years, which looks at each sector (e.g. 5G / Mobile Broadband / WiFi and TV / Radio broadcasting) and investigates how their needs are likely to change. This will be open to responses until 11th December 2013 and a final spectrum strategy should then be ready by early 2014.

Ed Richards, Ofcoms Chief Executive, said:

Access to spectrum is fundamental to the future success of the UK’s digital economy, providing the infrastructure that underpins all wireless communications.

The upcoming white space pilot is a very exciting development, which has attracted an impressive line-up of participants, ranging from global tech giants to innovative UK start-ups. This is an excellent opportunity for the UK to help lead in the world of spectrum and one that could deliver huge benefits to society.”

One of the big hurdles for White Space technology to manage is the need for a special online database that can keep track of changing channel/spectrum allocations so as to avoid service drops, interference and other potential performance woes. Happily Google, Nominet, LS telcom, iconectiv, Key Bridge, Fairspectrum and Spectrum Bridge will all be testing potentials solutions for this problem.

The white space trial itself will apparently start “later this year” and should then continue into the first half of 2014. Details about what each participant will be doing can be found below and most of those related to rural / remote broadband are being conducted by Click4Internet and Adaptrum. Microsoft will also be testing it as an urban wifi solution.

In theory the first commercial services could then be rolled out by the end of 2014.

Ofcoms White Space Trial Participants

Harmonics is a Canada based wireless solution provider. It will work with MediaTek and Microsoft to conduct the world’s first network trial of an international standard for white space devices, called IEEE 802.11af. This will take place in Glasgow, where white spaces will be used to provide mobile and fixed broadband services using the company’s own Adaptive Radio Network (ARN*) technology.

Adaptrum is a wireless technology specialist based in Silicon Valley that will be testing the performance of a new product line that uses TV white spaces to deliver superfast wireless broadband.

BT / Neul
BT and technology specialist Neul2 will work with the Department for Transport to test traffic management technology along the A14 between Felixstowe and Cambridge.

Working with its technology partners – KTS & Sinecom – internet service provider, Click4internet, will use white spaces to test the provision of rural broadband in hard to reach places obscured by thick foliage or challenging topography.

Spectrum sharing technology specialist, Fairspectrum, is a potential database provider.

Technology company, Google, is a potential database provider.

LS telcom
LS telcom, regulatory spectrum management system, consultancy and hardware supplier, is a potential database provider.

Telecommunications technology specialist, iconectiv, is a potential database provider.

ICT-ACROPOLIS Network of Excellence (as lead EU project among a number of contributing EU projects)
Working with a number of lead partners that include King’s College London, the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission and EURECOM, this trial aims to deploy and test a range of pioneering systems for operation in TV white space, including LTE (4G) services, WiFi, and broadband for public protection and disaster relief.

Key Bridge
Wireless communications specialist, Key Bridge, is a potential database provider.

MediaTek Inc. is a semiconductor company for wireless communications and digital multimedia solutions. It will be working with Microsoft and 6Harmonics on the Glasgow white spaces trial.

Headquartered in Sunnyvale, California, MELD Technology Inc. (MELD) plans to test the use of TV white spaces to broadcast High Definition TV content to TV screens and portable devices equipped with a Digital TV tuner. The content could be entertainment related, public service or informational broadcasts.

Microsoft will test how white spaces can provide people with access to free Wi-Fi in Glasgow, which has the lowest level of broadband take-up of all UK cities.

Working with the University of Strathclyde’s Centre for White Space Communications, Microsoft will also examine using white spaces to link a network of sensors around Glasgow to create a ‘smart city’.

Love Hz
Love Hz and MLL Telecom will be partnering to build a trial whitespace network in Oxford. Several local academic and commercial organisations have expressed an interest in using this network for Internet of Things and Machine-to-Machine applications such as managing the efficiency of buildings, taking environmental measurements and developing private network infrastructures. Love Hz and MLL Telecom will assist them in developing these applications.

Members of Oxford Hackspace will also develop the Oxford Flood Network, a network of citizen-placed sensors around Oxford giving early warnings about flooding for the community. The TV Whitespace pilot offers an ideal platform to test community-built wide-area sensor networks.

Internet registry company, Nominet, is a potential database provider.

KTS & SineCom
Wireless technology specialists, KTS and SineCom will be participating in several trials to test their “Agility Whitespace Radio” kit. This will include working with Click4Internet to provide internet services to residences on the Isle of Wight; using white spaces to monitor and manage equipment in a rural water utility operation in Scotland using M2M technology; and testing the performance of surveillance systems such as CCTV in Watford using white spaces.

Spectrum Bridge
Wireless spectrum management specialist, Spectrum Bridge, is a potential database provider.

6Harmonics is a Canada based wireless solution provider. It will work with MediaTek and Microsoft to conduct the world’s first network trial of an international standard for white space devices, called IEEE 802.11af. This will take place in Glasgow, where white spaces will be used to provide mobile and fixed broadband services using the company’s own Adaptive Radio Network (ARN*) technology.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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