Cambridge UK To Test Super WiFi

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With the rise of Smartphones and Tablets the demand for mobile internet has dramatically increased. A real problem is presenting itself with predictions that demand for the Internet will quadruple by 2015.

So how are we going to provide the necessary bandwidth to cope with this increased demand?

Super WIFI

In Cambridge, UK, with the help of the BBC, BSkyB, BT and Microsoft, trials are taking place to test a new version of broadband, one that taps into the unused frequencies between digital TV channels.

The challenge is to prove that utilizing this space has no negative effect on the actual channels surrounding the “white space” which is made up of unused frequencies between 470MHz and 790MHz, usually left empty to avoid what is termed “leakage” into to other programmes.


Since the switch to digital, viewers in the UK have been offered more channels than they used to via terrestrial broadcasting, (1,2,ITV,C4 and 5).
The reason behind this is an adoption of a compression algorithm termed COFDM, which significantly reduces the bandwidth needed to send a signal digitally compared to the analogue method previously used.

Hence we have more space for more channels on what is now termed “Freeview”

As COFDM type modulation modulates the signal at much lower wavelengths due to the way it is coded and then encoded by a receiver, the frequencies are able to penetrate further and require less signal to be decoded than other methods.

Perfect for rural areas?

The people involved hope that the technology will provide a solution for rural areas that sometimes suffer from lack of broadband as it can be uneconomical to lay fibre-optic cabling, the current “hard wired” solution to broadband at home.

Mobile broadband growing:

With mobile bandwidth straining due to the uptake of data hungry devices such as smart phones and tablets, the test hopes to free up some further areas of the radio spectrum in order to provide additional mobile bandwidth for these devices.

One of the companies involved in the consortium, Neul, has already produced a system that can provide delivery of 16Mbps within a range of 10km.

The team from Microsoft has indicated that the spectrum is a finite resource and should be manged more effectively given the opportunities it inherently contains.

Dan Reed, Microsoft Executive says;

“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,”

Microsoft is spearheading the research team “Cambridge TV White Spaces Consortium” which includes a number of small specialist UK firms.

The consortium’s remit is quite simple; to provide a way of alleviating current mobile networks that are currently feeling the starting from the Internet demands of the modern age, with the growth of smart phones.

“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.”

We hope that the trial proves fruitful as the growth of mobile Internet requires the demands of mobile devices to be fully met and not be stuck in Internet mud.

Anthony Munns