Leading UK Broadcasters and Technology Companies Form Consortium to Trial TV White Spaces Technology

By Microsoft Corp., PRNE
Sunday, June 26, 2011

CAMBRIDGE, England, June 27, 2011 -

BBC, BSkyB, BT, Cambridge
Consultants, Microsoft, Neul, Nokia, Samsung,
Bridge and TTP to trial how unused TV spectrum- TV white
spaces-could help satisfy the escalating demand for wireless
internet connectivity

Today, representatives from some of the UK’s largest technology
and media companies announced the formation of the Cambridge TV
White Spaces Consortium. The group is undertaking technology trials
to explore how the unused TV spectrum could provide an inexpensive
solution to satisfy the escalating wireless connectivity
requirements of UK consumers and businesses in towns, cities and
rural areas.

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The consortium issued this statement: “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.”

TV White Spaces

The market for mobile bandwidth that serves phones, laptops,
tablets and other smart devices is expected to increase 92 percent
between 2011 and 2015. With the growth in demand for applications
such as TV streaming, internet access, voice calling, music
services and video downloads, the need for such mobile bandwidth is
rapidly outpacing the capacity of today’s wireless networks.

The consortium is launching a trial to assess the potential of
TV white spaces to deliver cost-efficient broadband access to rural
communities, offload wireless data demand in urban centres and open
the way for innovative business models. It will explore how mobile
devices can tap into unused television channels -TV white spaces -
to supplement wireless broadband and cellular networks. The trial
is designed to validate that TV white spaces can be used without
any impact on traditional broadcast television in the UK, a concept
that has already been successfully explored in the US and other
European countries.

TV white spaces networks can provide wireless connectivity and
work in much the same way as Wi-Fi, but because TV spectrum signals
travel farther and are better at penetrating walls than Wi-Fi, they
may require fewer access points. Given this, the use of TV white
spaces also has the potential to help bring mobile broadband to
rural areas that are not currently served well by existing

The range and mobile bandwidth offered by TV white spaces can
also more easily support a variety of connected devices that offer
services and communicate with one another, such as connected
automobiles and retail signs, a vision that is being widely
discussed as a potential “Internet of Things”, where intelligent
devices all around offer a wide range of new capabilities.

A Consortium Effort

The consortium includes several of the UK’s largest technology
and media companies and 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. And although the trial is not
open to the public, visitors from the industry will be invited to
experience a number of planned demonstrations.

The consortium chose Cambridge for the trial because it has a
long history in developing novel wireless communication
technologies and offers an environment for testing diverse uses of
the TV white spaces network. The city is distinguished by a dense
mixture of buildings, including the historic stone buildings of its
colleges, which offer a unique opportunity to demonstrate the
penetration of TV white spaces signals when compared with other
higher frequency networks such as Wi-Fi. And although Cambridge
itself has good broadband access, some neighbouring villages suffer
poor broadband service, allowing the advantageous range of TV white
spaces communications to be demonstrated.

About the Consortium Partners

  • BBC exists to enrich
    people’s lives with great programmes and services that inform,
    educate and entertain. It provides a wide range of distinctive
    programmes and services for everyone, free of commercial interests
    and political bias, which include television, radio, national,
    local, children’s, educational, language and other services for key
    interest groups. The BBC is financed by a TV license paid by
    households. It does not have to serve the interests of advertisers
    or produce a return for shareholders.
  • BSkyB’s Sky entertains
    and excites more than 10.1 million homes through the most
    comprehensive multichannel, multi-platform television service in
    the UK and Ireland.  Sky also works with dozens of other
    broadcasters on the satellite platform, online and on mobile. 
    The company is also the UK’s fastest-growing broadband and home
    phone provider and recently acquired The Cloud, one of the UK’s
    largest public Wi-Fi providers.
  • BT is one of the
    world’s leading providers of communications solutions and services,
    operating in more than 170 countries. Its principal activities
    include the provision of networked IT services globally; local,
    national and international telecommunications services to customers
    for use at home, at work and on the move; broadband and internet
    products and services; and converged fixed/mobile products and
  • Cambridge
     has one of the largest independent
    wireless teams in the world, providing expertise on the vast array
    of wireless technologies that exist today and their application to
    a wide range of market areas.
  • Microsoft
     is the worldwide leader in software, services and
    solutions that help people and businesses realise their full
  • Neul develops
    innovative and disruptive wireless network technology to enable the
    use of TV white spaces spectrum. Its products are the first and so
    far the only radios that fully meet the FCC white spaces radio
    specification. They provide reliable, secure, long-range wireless
    connectivity to satisfy the burgeoning market for data
    communications. By deploying or using a Neul network, customers
    benefit from unrivalled geographic coverage, increased network
    capacity and dramatically reduced costs.
  • Nokia is the world’s
    leading mobile phone supplier and a leading supplier of mobile
    telecom networks including related customer services.
  • Samsung is the
    leader in the global market for high-tech electronics manufacturing
    and digital media.
  • Spectrum Bridge
     is a provider of software and services to wireless
    service companies and equipment manufacturers.
  • TTP is Europe’s
    leading independent technology development company. The
    internationally acclaimed TTP team has been at the forefront of
    wireless communications for over 20 years, and are providing
    concept, design and production solutions to clients looking to
    exploit white spaces spectrum hardware and services across
    industries as diverse as telecommunications, emergency services,
    energy management and healthcare.

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