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Nominet Expands TV White Space Wireless Broadband Trial to Wales UK

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017 (10:34 am) - Score 1,883

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.

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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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