The Cambridge TV White Spaces Consortium has been founded to explore how the unused TV spectrum could provide an inexpensive solution to satisfy the growing wireless connectivity requirements of UK consumers and businesses in both urban and rural areas.
Members of the consortium include major players like BSkyB, BBC, Nokia, Samsung, Microsoft and BT and the trial will begin in Cambridge this Wednesday and will try and establish whether or not using the so-called ‘white space’ frequencies (the 470MHz to 790MHz range) of the radio spectrum will effect the digital TV signal. The idea of using this unused spectrum was first floated by Ofcom in 2009 and the need for it has never been clearer. According to Microsoft the market for mobile bandwidth that serves phones, laptops, tablets and other smart devices is expected to increase 92 per cent between 2011 and 2015. Similar trials in the US and other European countries have proved successful.
A statement from the consortium said: “With the number of connected devices and data applications growing rapidly, and with mobile networks feeling the strain, we must find ways of satisfying the traffic demands of today and tomorrow. This trial will attempt to demonstrate that unused TV spectrum is well-placed to increase the UK’s available mobile bandwidth, which is critical to effectively responding to the exponential growth in data-intensive services, while also enabling future innovation.”
The trial will test technologies under a variety of scenarios to assess how TV white spaces could be used to facilitate communications and information services. This will include streaming high-quality video and audio content from the BBC and BSkyB over the TV white spaces spectrum to a range of mobile devices, including some from Nokia and Samsung. The TV white spaces hotspots will include local pubs, other leisure venues, and commercial and residential premises.
This technology could help ease the burden on mobile broadband in densely populated urban areas as well as offering a solution to the lack of high speed broadband services in rural areas –both of which are certainly needed.