UK white spaces broadband trials a success

UK white spaces broadband trials a success
Cables? We don't need no stinkin' cables

A 10-month long experiment using white spaces for broadband capacity has been deemed "successful".

The idea is that white spaces – the interference caused by unused radio spectrums – is prime retail space for broadband in rural areas, where fitting a fibre optic line would be pretty much impossible or at the least too expensive.

There are a number of big names backing the trials, including the likes of the BBC, Microsoft, BT and Virgin Media (under the guise of the TV White Spaces Consortium) and the trials have been going on for the best part of a year now.

What the extensive trial has found is that there is plenty of white space to go around to plaster over the cracks of rural broadband.

According to the results, there's "significant television white spaces capacity" – which equates to 20 white spaces channels corresponding to 160 MHz in total, of which 13 use 104MHz.

Not only will this be good enough for rural areas, it will also help those who want 'machine to machine' communication and for selected urban areas.

When it comes to rural areas, the trial managed up to 8Mbps broadband and there was enough juice in the urban areas to achieve passable Wi-Fi hotspot connectivity.

Demonstrating potential

The trial does show that the technology does needs to be refined and speed tests aren't exactly knocking people's socks off but utilising white space does seem to be working and Ofcom has given its seal of approval.

With 50 billion devices set to be connected to the web within the next eight years, even if the tech powers 'the internet of things' then it has a job on its hands.

Speaking about the trials, communications minister Ed Vaizey said: "I welcome the success to date of the Cambridge White Spaces Trial.

"Leading innovators from the UK and beyond have demonstrated the potential that television white spaces can have for meeting the UK's broadband needs. Developments such as this endorse the leadership position that the UK can take in enabling more efficient use of spectrum by opening up an array of opportunities for wireless applications for consumers and businesses alike."

Marc Chacksfield

Marc Chacksfield is the Editor In Chief, at DC Thomson. He started out life as a movie writer for numerous (now defunct) magazines and soon found himself online - editing a gaggle of gadget sites, including TechRadar, Digital Camera World and Tom's Guide UK. At Shortlist you'll find him mostly writing about movies and tech, so no change there then.