Microsoft leads White Space consortium in UK

Microsoft and a group of companies including BBC, BT, Nokia, Samsung and BSkyB are set to begin trails this week of the White Space spectrum for mobile broadband services in the UK. In the US the White Space has been a favorite of tech companies and the bain of existence for traditional cellular and local broadcast providers.  The FCC cleared the White Space for use back in the Fall of 2010 but its been slow going getting to a consumer ready offering.

From Microsoft:

“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 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.

White Space

Diagram of the White Space

Microsoft has been instrumental in pushing the White Space agenda in the US for many years and has now expanded to the UK. with plans to also grow to Japan and Singapore.

From the Financial Times:

Dan Reed, a Microsoft executive responsible for its technology strategy, said: “Spectrum is a finite natural resource. We can’t make more and we must use it efficiently and wisely.

“The TV white spaces offer tremendous potential to extend the benefits of wireless connectivity to many more people, in more locations, through the creation of super WiFi networks.”

From Mobilemedia:

“Spectrum is a finite natural resource. We can’t make more and we must use it efficiently and wisely,” said Dan Reed, Microsoft’s vice president of technology policy and strategy, to the Financial Times. “The TV white spaces offer tremendous potential to extend the benefits of wireless connectivity to many more people, in more locations, through the creation of super Wi-Fi networks.”

The White Space is a “development of the IEEE 802.22 WRAN standard is aimed at using cognitive radio (CR) techniques to allow sharing of geographically unused spectrum allocated to the Television Broadcast Service, on a non-interfering basis, to bring broadband access to hard-to-reach, low population density areas, typical of rural environments, and is therefore timely and has the potential for a wide applicability worldwide. It is the first worldwide effort to define a standardized air interface based on CR techniques for the opportunistic use of TV television bands on a non-interfering basis.”

From Dan Reed:

Microsoft's Dan Reed

“With more than five billion cell phones and a growing “Internet of Things,” the demands we’re placing on spectrum have run headlong into the traditional ways that society regulates and allocates spectrum use, based on approaches that are nearly a century old. This is an issue that goes well beyond dropped cell phone calls, and can’t be solved solely by adding fiber optic networks and cell sites.

Fortunately, a new generation of radio technologies may hold the key to unlocking large, often unused chunks of spectrum – first in the TV broadcast bands (so-called “TV white spaces”) — with the help of online databases and devices that enable wireless traffic to flow in the most efficient manner and avoid interfering with licensed broadcasts and other primary uses.

Consumers today have come to expect and demand anytime, anywhere connectivity. Wireless networks using the TV white spaces can provide connectivity similar to Wi-Fi, but with coverage areas measured in kilometers instead of meters. Radio is also egalitarian in that the cost to link a user 30 meters away is the same as the cost of serving a user several kilometers away. Once a base station is turned on, everyone within range has access. In addition, the more rural the user, the less intensively radio spectrum is utilized, which enables greater data rates for rural users who do not have direct access to fiber or other wired broadband connections.

All of this represents an important technology opportunity, and will create new economic opportunities, the same way Wi-Fi brought a valuable new class of services over the last decade.”

One of the companies in the consortium is Neul, “who 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”

NeulNET: the world's first dedicated TV white space 'network in a box'

NeulNET “is the first radio system specifically designed for TV white space that meets all FCC/Ofcom regulations and in particular the stringent Adjacent Channel Power specification. This allows NeulNET to operate over all of the available white space channels without interfering with digital TV’s, PVR’s & wireless microphones. NeulNET consists of a base station, battery powered terminal device, antennas and a set of PC based network management tools. Additional base stations, terminals & antennas are also available to purchase separately to expand your network.”

“White space delivers a huge amount of much-needed new capacity to meet the current and future needs of the M2M market,” commented James Collier, CEO of Neul. “But it presents significant technical challenges. In order to utilise the enormous potential of white space, the industry needs low-cost radios based on an industry standard. NeulNET radios, built around the new Weightless standard deliver this. Neul is at the forefront of white space developments, enabling, developing and defining the future local broadband and M2M networks.”

About Daniel Davenport

Daniel is a digital media executive with internet and broadcast experience. Daniel is currently the executive strategy director at THINK Interactive.


  1. White Space: the thrill is gone | thinkd2c - September 7, 2011

    […] news comes following a successful trial in June by Microsoft and a group of telco companies. Ofcom expects the White Space spectrum to be in use by […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: