New TV White Space Radio Put Through Their Paces


Broadway is pleased to report a further successful trial of the next generation of TV WhiteSpace (TVWS) radio. Using equipment supplied by US company HuWoMobility, and working with UK spectrum database services provider Nominet, Broadway has demonstrated consistent download speeds of more than 50Mbps, across wooded and hilly terrain that would defeat conventional radios.

Previous first generation TVWS radios made use of single 8MHz radio channels and delivered broadband download speeds of 15-20 Mbps – more than adequate for normal web surfing and video streaming needs, and a huge jump in capability from the sub-1Mbps service that was often all that was previously available.

The latest generation of radios has been developed to meet the need for even more bandwidth and even higher download speeds, brought about by ever more sophisticated digital devices, and by the proliferation of those devices in homes.

By aggregating three radio channels, or 24MHz of spectrum, the new ‘tri-channel’ radios have substantially increased their effective throughput. With expected future use of ‘massive mimo’ aerials, and with further refinement of signal processing software, manufacturers are confidently anticipating 100Mbps download speeds, putting the technology on a par with conventional fibre-based ‘ultrafast’ services.

This development is particularly important from a public policy perspective. First, the speeds being achieved by these latest radios comfortably exceed the 30Mbps download requirements of the Next Generation Access (NGA) rules, thereby potentially qualifying the technology under European State aid rules as a legitimate tool for the delivery of universal superfast broadband.

And second, the success of these trials provides powerful vindication of the UK Government’s pioneering decision to allow spectrum-sharing in the TV WhiteSpace frequency band. The implications of this decision will continue to stretch far and wide – massively improving the commercial case for delivering broadband connectivity in sparsely populated rural areas, as well as laying the ground rules for the sharing of spectrum across multiple frequency bands – a pre-condition of a successful migration to 5G services.

Broadway’s participation in the DCMS-supported 5GRIT (5G Rural Integrated Testbed) pilot trials, alongside Quickline and Kings College, London, amongst others, is aimed precisely to test the limits of current spectrum-sharing techniques, and to develop the commercial and business case for large-scale deployment of rural networks.

Michael Armitage, Chairman of Broadway, said: “People need to be connected, wherever they are, in town or country, at home or at work, and TV WhiteSpace is an important part of the mix of technologies that can guarantee that digital connectivity is available to fully 100% of the population. The latest trial results vindicate our faith in the technology, and we look forward to rapid deployment of next generation radios across our networks in Scotland and Wales”.

Heng Pan, CEO of HuWoMobility, said: “Our next generation radio technology is delivering high speed broadband in highly challenging terrain that would leave conventional line-of-sight radio struggling. There is almost nowhere that TV WhiteSpace cannot go, and we are thrilled to be able to help communities stay connected”.

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