Recycled TV signals power the British countryside

9th August 2017
Posted By : Anna Flockett
Recycled TV signals power the British countryside

We have heard a lot about the digital switchover recently, but now it turns out it has come in use in more ways than one. The TV broadcast frequencies that were leftover from the switchover are going to plug the broadband gap in a part of rural Monmouthshire. This pilot scheme will see TV white space used to send a high-speed broadband signal from a standard mast.

Taking part in the scheme, filmmaker Martin Phillips said it would "revolutionise" working from his home in Llanarth.

However, some experts have said more should have been done to deliver fibre broadband to as many homes as possible.

White space uses the spare spectrum in the UHF band, no longer needed for television broadcasts following the digital switchover. Llanarth will be the second community to take part in the scheme, as it is already up and running on the Isle of Arran in Scotland.

Partnering together to start the project up is the domain name registry firm Nominet and telecoms firm Broadway Partners.

Not the first of its kind
There have been several trials of white space technology (TVWS) in the UK.

Earlier this year some trials were conducted by BT on the Isle of Bute and in Sutton, Suffolk, but has since moved its attention to other technologies.

Broadband, like a television signal, that is delivered in this way can travel up to 10km (six miles) over hills, through buildings and trees direct to people's homes.

For some time it has been recognised, that signals can help plug the gap in coverage especially in rural areas.

But in more recent times it has only just been acted on, and according to the companies involved; now it is commercially viable and can deliver faster speeds.

Phillips, who really struggled to use the internet for a lot of things, especially to send footage to clients, said: "It's the consistency that makes the difference for us. It's knowing that once you press a button it will work, it will send, and the fact it's raining or cloudy or windy outside isn't going to change that."

Former Chief Technical Officer of BT, Peter Cochrane, explained that rural areas had been neglected. "All of these stop-gap measures are like a finger in a dyke. They under-provide the band width, they hardly meet today's needs let alone tomorrow's.”

Cochrane added: "We're wasting billions betting on things that can't possibly meet our needs in the future."

Openreach, who run the UK’s broadband infrastructure has agreed a split from BT following concerns from the Ofcom regulator.

A spokesman for the company shared that over 80,000 internet exchange boxes had been installed across the country to connect fibre broadband to properties.

The Openreach worked added: "The rural roll-out is accelerating at pace and we will find the gaps are being closed."

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