New wireless broadband targets hard-to-reach places

Working with a consortium of researchers from Strathclyde University, BBC Research and Development, Steepest Ascent, Berg Design and Netpropagate, BT engineers have been trialling a new wireless broadband technology on the Isle of Bute.

The company is conducting the trials to see if so-called ’white spaces’ in the Ultra High Frequency (UHF) TV spectrum can be used to deliver high-speed broadband to hard-to-reach areas.

’White spaces’ are increasingly becoming available due to the switchover to digital TV. They are essentially the unused parts of the digital TV spectrum in a specific geography.

BT is conducting the trial to see if the white spaces can be used to assist homes that either receive no broadband service or a sub-2Mb/sec service due to the length of their line.

The initial results have been very promising, with the technology being tested over long distances and challenging terrain. Further tests are required, however, and so live trials are due to commence in July with approximately a dozen end users across the island.

These end users will have their wireless service linked back to an exchange building at Kilchattan Bay, from which a dedicated radio link to the mainland will provide broadband internet access.

The consortium is backed by funding from the government’s Technology Strategy Board.