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Nominet Expands TV White Space Wireless Broadband Trial to Wales UK

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017 (10:34 am) - Score 1,859

The UK Internet domain registry, Nominet, has announced that their pilot of “White Space” wireless broadband technology, which utilises the gaps in radio spectrum that exist between Digital Terrestrial TV channels (470-790MHz), is now being extended into Monmouthshire (Wales).

Last year saw Nominet and Broadway Partners team-up with experts from Sony, Microsoft, the Strathclyde University and King’s College London in order to deploy a similar network – Arran Broadband – to remote rural residents on the Isle of Arran in Scotland (here), where until recently the local speeds rarely pushed above 1Mbps (this mostly reflects those living outside of Openreach’s (BT) FTTC network coverage).

Since then the Arran network, which initially covered the Machrie, Shiskine and Blackwaterfoot area, has been extended to cover 300 premises and reaches Sliddery, Kilmory, Shannochie and Kildona on the south side of the island. Plans are also in motion to expand the network into the villages of Lamlash, Whiting bay and Brodick. Superfast download speeds of up to 40Mbps are possible.

Unlike most fixed wireless networks the Nominet / Broadway Partners approach involves the innovative new White Space (aka – TV Whitespaces) technology, which harnesses the gaps that exist between radio spectrum in the Digital Terrestrial TV bands. The gaps are normally intended to help minimise the risk of interference between channels, although a new dynamic spectrum management system (database) means that they can also be used to deliver data (i.e. this has to account for any changes in the TV channel / spectrum assignments).

white space tv wireless database

The good news is that a second pilot of the technology is now being launched in Monmouthshire (South Wales), which with support from the local county council will run for six months and aims to cover 9 homes in the Parish of Llanarth. However if the pilot proves to be as successful then the network could be expanded.

Nominet states that there are currently around 170 households in Llanarth where broadband speeds remain poor, with an average of just 2.5Mbps. By comparison the new network promises affordable download speeds of up to 30Mbps.

Russell Haworth, CEO of Nominet, said:

“Rural communities deserve a fair deal on broadband just like everybody else and TV white space is proving to be a game-changer. Following the success of our technology on the Isle of Arran; the pilot in Llanarth is further proof that dynamic spectrum management has great potential to narrow the digital divide in the UK, giving people in remote areas access to a high-speed internet service that they would otherwise be without.”

Michael Armitage, Founder Director of Broadway Partners, said:

“TV white space is a resilient and affordable option that brings high-speed internet to areas that have struggled to get online in the past. Llanarth is a beautiful but remote village, with residents who need access to better connectivity in order to grow their businesses and get more out of everyday life. We look forward to a successful pilot and continued collaboration with Monmouthshire County Council to expand the scheme.”

The Arran service was priced at £35 per month for an up to 35Mbps (3Mbps upload) connection, plus the £200 one-off installation fee (the install fee can often be covered by a government ‘better broadband’ scheme subsidy) and we expect the deployment in Monmouthshire to be similar. Future service speeds of up to 100Mbps have also been hinted at.

Some properties may, where possible, also be connected via a more conventional 5GHz line-of-sight fixed wireless network that can deliver even faster broadband speeds. On top of that we believe that the service has a Fair Usage Policy of about 100GB per month.

Leave a Comment
6 Responses
  1. Avatar wireless pacman says:

    Presumably the service would have pretty strict usage allowances? Otherwise service is going to suffer pretty quickly once a few serial downloaders/streamers join up. After all, there won’t be much spectrum available for this and the range at that frequency could be pretty high.

    1. Avatar James says:

      “On top of that we believe that the service has a Fair Usage Policy of about 100GB per month.”

      Read!?

  2. Avatar Name says:

    “Superfast download speeds of up to 40Mbps are possible.”
    This is not even fast. 150 Mbps for 7 pounds per month is where fast broadband starts in 2017. This is what you can get in Romania and other Eastern European countries, even in small towns with only 45,000 people and on a street with detached houses, 4 km from city centre.

    1. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      I’d agree but “superfast” in the UK is defined by either 24Mbps+ or 30Mbps+, depending upon which contract, government agency or regulator you ask about. Meanwhile “ultrafast” is usually considered to start at 100Mbps+, although Ofcom pegs it at 300Mbps+.

  3. Avatar Broadband Cariad says:

    How is this going to be funded? – TV White space equipment is around £1000 just for the CPE equipment and the maximum funding in Wales via Access Broadband Cymru is £800 for a 30 plus Mbs Connection. TV White space in Ideal conditions can only deliver 35Mbs – Will all the conditions be ideal? And that is taken from the manufacturers specifications.

    As Openreach has already been paid to deploy FTTC and FTTP to supposedly 95% of Wales, Does this mean the tax payer will once again have to fund another special project to deliver relatively slow speed?

  4. Avatar Web Dude says:

    Just wondering why Nominet (the not for profit UK domain registrar) is getting involved?

    They hiked up .uk domain prices, when they didn’t need to…

    There’s some suggestion they used their existing bank balance to let them bid low for a number of gTLD “manage the database” contracts…

    They have spare money to fund this pilot… yet domains should be their priority.

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