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TV White Space 50Mbps Wireless Broadband Tech to Cover Loch Ness

Tuesday, November 21st, 2017 (11:13 am) - Score 3,846

The UK Internet domain registry, Nominet, has again joined forces with Broadway Partners to deploy their long range “TV White Space” wireless superfast broadband technology, which utilises the gaps in radio spectrum that exist between Television channels (470-790MHz), to reach Loch Ness in Scotland.

So far the operator has already deployed a similar network to serve remote rural residents on the Isle of Arran in Scotland (here) and earlier this year they started building another TVWS network around the parish of Llanarth in Monmouthshire, Wales (here).

The latest deployment to join this club is none other than Loch Ness, where a certain mythical monster is alleged to reside (apparently only people with terrible camera skills are able to see it). The new White Space (aka – TV Whitespaces) technology harnesses the gaps that exist between radio spectrum in the Digital Terrestrial TV bands.

The related spectrum 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 advantage of this approach is that it enables providers to harness some very low frequency spectrum for broadband connectivity, which might not deliver the fastest speeds but it does have exceptional coverage capabilities. Physical obstructions, such as trees or buildings, are also less of a problem.

At present some homes in the largest village of Drumnadrochit can already access Openreach’s 80Mbps capable Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC / VDSL2) network via fixed lines, but many other areas continue to struggle and this can also have a negative impact on tourism.

By comparison the new network, which is currently in the BETA testing phase, is initially being deployed to cover Loch End, Abriachan, Balchraggen, Dores, Achmony, Milton, Drumnadrochit, Kilmore, Strone, Bunloit, Inverfarigaig and Foyers (more will follow in the future). Full pricing will be released shortly but the standard package is £30 inc. VAT for download speeds of up to 50Mbps.

Russell Haworth, CEO of Nominet, said:

“It’s amazing that one of the most famous tourist destinations in Britain lags so far behind in the broadband race. The beauty of TV white space lies in its ability to quickly bridge connectivity holes like this and add value directly into the communities and businesses of the area, and boost commerce in the region. We’re delighted to be a part of the project and really look forward to putting our technology to the test.”

Michael Armitage, Founder Director of Broadway Partners, said:

“This project is particularly exciting because, while virtually everybody has heard of Loch Ness, few outside the area realise just how poorly served it is for broadband. TV white space technology allows us to reach communities and businesses that are beyond the reach of conventional wireless, and we are thrilled to be able to help locals and visitors alike get connected.”

Further details can be found on the related Connected Loch Ness project site and new installations should also be able to take advantage of the UK Government’s Better Broadband Subsidy Scheme, which offers grants worth up to £350 in order to cover the installation cost (currently due to expire at the end of 2017 – unless extended).

Sadly no information has been provided to explain the cost of deployment or funding sources, which makes it hard to judge the project’s wider merits.

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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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13 Responses
  1. Bobby D says:

    TVWS is like the Loch Ness…mythical…Not one vendor has ever raised real money and nobody big is supporting it….better to use other proven technology like WISPs in the USA and other…these stories have been around for 15 years now…TVWS and Loch Ness..what a combo!

  2. Tim says:

    Is the 50Mbps realistic? Last time I checked TVWS could only manage 12Mbps.

    1. MikeW says:

      The Carlson website suggests their current generation kit can support 72Mbps aggregate, 24Mbps on one client. Up to 90 clients per base station.

      I think that’s a step up from what I last read, but I’ve no idea how many base stations can be colocated or sectorised.

    2. MikeW says:

      The Arran Broadband Facebook page includes a speed test result of 80/70.

      However, a picture on the Broadway Partners Facebook page shows them using Ubiquiti Litebeam hardware (the same picture Mark used on this article), so it can’t be exclusively TVWS. They have posted that they’re testing 2nd generation TVWS hardware.

    3. Mark Jackson says:

      Sadly we don’t have any good quality pics of the end-user TVWS install in Loch Ness, so the one above is from our archive for the group and I’d guess it’s from their Arran deployment.

  3. Tim says:

    Thanks MikeW.

    But that still isn’t capable of what they claim, 50Mbps.

    From the looks of it a Carlson base station is 3×120 deg sectors. 30 clients per sector and they’d directly contend for just 24Mbps per sector. So although this would make a 24Mbps service 30:1 (if fully subscribed) it does mean that any one of the other clients using the service will directly affect all other 29 clients.

    Back when I worked for a WISP this was a very bad situation to be in and customers would complain about peek time speeds a lot. One reason we never offered more than 24Mbps even though technically the kit (Ubiquiti) was capable of delivering 60~100Mbps.

    1. Gadget says:

      Fully loaded with users its not ideal, however in rural scenarios it is the reach and the “Heinekin” effect that makes TVWS useful – in fact the number of customers tend to be much lower than in an urban or suburban environment. If you were dealing with say a dozen properties on the other side of an inlet or estuary it could be a much better solution than line-based and satellite based solutions.

  4. Barry Weaver says:

    Hi All – if you have any questions about the network like TVWS performance, please feel free to call Barry Weaver at Broadway Partners. There is a DSA newsletter coming out soon with results of the technical bits.

  5. Can an installer please be in touch to discuss providing high speed broadband to another Highland community being ignored by BT and HIE.

  6. Conny says:

    This is run by clowns who never respond to emails, what a waist of time……

  7. James says:

    What is wrong with the people running this, I have emailed the six times and no one emails back, I applied for my broadband voucher for the installation and it has now expired. Like the last comment on here run by clowns. They connect a few known people and ignore the rest. What a waist of time this is, don’t believe the bulls”””

  8. Andy J says:

    Broadway repeatedly claim to be running TVWS networks in various parts of the UK delivering up to 50 Mbps to end customers. This is absolute nonsense. They trot out a piece of Adaptrum generation 1 kit which can’t get close to 20 Mbps let alone 50. Adaptrum are the only vendor currently compliant for use in the UK. Carlson and Redline are close with the former capable of delivering up to 30 Mbps and Redline 50 Mbps with channel bonding but this is many months away. The pictures which accompany Broaday PR are of %Ghz kit. They are deploying nothing but smoke and mirrors but good luck to them for sucking in the press and then naive team at Nominet, but heaven help any future customers they may be lucky to attract if this is the level of their integrity.

  9. Robert Feal-Martinez says:

    This reminds me when I lived in Swindon, Wiltshire. The LA signed a contract with a former Council (not known for his integrity) to deliver a WiFi Mesh for the town. They handed him hundreds of thousands for the pilot, which never happened. The technology meant it was too expensive and no one wanted it. Of course it failed leaving the Council with a huge red face and rate payers out of pocket.

    I have a question, if the ‘signals’ exist every why hasn’t someone produced a ‘set top’ box to capture the signals, so anyone could access it.

    I now live in Scotland (Rosneath Castle Residential Park) we have broadband but only ever get 6 to 7mbps. We have good EE 4G but it is expensive for general use so such a box would easily sell to our 60 residents and 400+ Holiday Caravans.

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