A consortium of major media and technology companies has been formed to investigate how currently unused portions of the TV broadcasting spectrum can be used to inexpensively satisfy the rapidly growing demand for wireless internet access.
The Cambridge TV White Spaces Consortium includes such high profile organisations as the BBC, BSkyB, BT, Microsoft, Nokia, Cambridge Consultants and others.
With an explosion of smartphones, tablet and laptop computers connecting wirelessly to the web and using ever more bandwidth intensive applications such as streaming media and internet telephony, existing wireless networks are running out of capacity. Unused parts of the TV broadcasting spectrum (known as ‘white spaces’) can be put to better use carrying data services in both rural and urban areas, an idea which has already been successfully implemented in other countries.
The consortium will carry out trials to demonstrate that white spaces can be used for data services without interfering with existing broadcast TV networks in the UK. The frequencies being used in these trials are capable of carrying data over much further distances, and better at getting through building walls, than the Wi-Fi networks most of us are already using at home and work, which makes the technology potentially useful for delivering data services to remote rural areas.
A joint statement issued by the consortium said: ”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 dataintensive services, while also enabling future innovation.”