White Space technology considered ideal for broadband communication
The switching over of television broadcast from analogue to digital has resulted in the availability of spare spectrum, known as White Space, in the UHF band.
The amount of White Space varies from place to place. Luckily, in the UK, it is available in plenty in some of the remote areas where there is little scope for broadband of any sort in the near future. Isle of Bute is one such a place, where testing of White Space is being done by British Telecom (BT).
The testing involves a transmitter at a small exchange, from where a broadband signal passes to 10 households with their own independent aerials. The signal is actually an extension of the fixed line network though it may be confused for a Wi-Fi signal.
The McAlister family farm located quite far from the exchange is also included in the testing.
Through the websites the head of the family could determine the best place where he could put his cattle for auction and get the best price. In other words, he could take part in live online auction. But lack of proper connectivity prevented him from doing so.
Copper network is not good enough to provide the necessary signals. The satellite broadband link is not practicable either. The only solution for the family is White Space.
Chris Gibbs of BT’s Openreach division hopes that White Space technology can do much more than replace copper network technology. The advantage is that it can reach home directly like in the television, whereas copper or fiber requires cables running along the streets before getting connected to the house. BT thinks of providing White Space as a wholesale product for the broadband.
The speed at the trial network was tested with a Skype video call.
As against the expected speed of 10 Mbps, only 4 Mbps to 8 Mbps cold be achieved. Interestingly, upload speed could be as high as the download speed, making possible video conferencing.
In short, the trial had indicated that White Space broadband is far superior. For example, the reputed Kingarth Hotel, which is another place for testing, is pleased that there is fast access to the brewery websites. Previously, the hotel could not order new stocks as they could see only the ‘sold out’ messages thanks to the old, slow speed broadband connection.
The trial is also taking place in a few other places including Cambridge.
However it remains to be seen whether it is commercially practicable.
In the meantime, Tooway Direct, a firm specialized in satellite communication declared that it is ready to provide fast, reliable and affordable broadband connection wherever necessary.
But it was noticed that some of the customers of the company’s satellite link in Bute were thoroughly dissatisfied. When this was pointed out to Andrew Walwyn of Tooway Direct, he admitted that there was problem initially but has since been rectified with the launch of a new satellite last year.
He also pointed that BT is not sure of providing fast broadband connection to a number of places even during the next five years, and satellite is an ideal alternative, which is superior as well as cheaper.
All these confirm that White Space will be ideal choice, better than satellite and 3G or 4G. It is indeed a relief for the people currently staying in not-spots and low-spots.
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