Cambridge Consortium Completes Successful Trial of Next-Generation Wireless

CAMBRIDGE, England — April 25, 2012 — Following more than 10 months of comprehensive testing in urban and rural areas in and around Cambridge, England, the Cambridge TV White Spaces Consortium, which comprises leading international and U.K. technology and media companies, has successfully demonstrated the potential of television white spaces. The consortium explored and measured a range of applications — rural wireless broadband, urban pop-up coverage and the emerging “machine-to-machine” communication — and found TV white spaces can be successfully utilized to help satisfy the rapidly accelerating demand for wireless connectivity. The consortium members recommend that the U.K. regulator Ofcom complete its development of the enabling regulatory framework in a manner that protects licensees from harmful interference and encourages innovation and deployment.

The consortium includes Adaptrum Inc., Alcatel-Lucent, Arqiva, BBC, BSkyB, BT, Cambridge Consultants, CRFS, CSR plc., Digital TV Group (DTG), Microsoft Corp., Neul, Nokia, Samsung, Spectrum Bridge Inc., The Technology Partnership plc. (TTP) and Virgin Media, and it demonstrated unprecedented partnership and collaboration while working closely with Ofcom to ensure that this technology can now be harnessed through a regulatory framework to benefit consumers and further innovation in the U.K. and beyond.

The consortium issued this statement: “With the rapid rise of mobile broadband and the desire to enable remote areas to enjoy the benefits of broadband, the need for more efficient spectrum use has never been greater. The U.K. is playing a leading role by exploring the use of license-exempt access to TV white spaces and developing a model regulatory framework. None of this would have been possible without the support of Ofcom — and the constructive and unprecedented collaboration of the companies involved — to progress this groundbreaking mode of spectrum access.”

Commenting today on the TV White Spaces trial, Communications Minister Ed Vaizey said, “I welcome the success to date of the Cambridge White Spaces Trial. Leading innovators from the U.K. and beyond have demonstrated the potential that television white spaces can have for meeting the U.K.’s broadband needs. Developments such as this endorse the leadership position that the U.K. can take in enabling more efficient use of spectrum by opening up an array of opportunities for wireless applications for consumers and businesses alike. I find the idea of using white space devices to deliver broadband to rural communities, or to expand the range and quality of urban Wi-Fi hotspots, exciting. This can form a significant contribution to our thinking as we consider how to maximize the value of the spectrum below 1 GHz. I look forward to hearing the next chapter of your progress.”

Trial Implementation and Results

The trial analysis found Cambridge has significant television white spaces capacity — 20 white spaces channels corresponding to 160 megahertz in total, of which 13 (104 megahertz) were allowed in the test license from Ofcom — which can be used to help augment existing broadband networks, extend broadband access to rural areas and allow for machine-to-machine communications. Further, geolocation databases, provided by Microsoft and Spectrum Bridge, proved a reliable way to control frequency use by the white spaces radios and to quickly adapt to changes in spectrum usage by the licensed users.

City center coverage. The consortium set up base stations on the north side of the Cambridge city center in four pubs and a theater, aiming to provide widespread coverage, including “pop-up” Wi-Fi hotspots. The base stations were connected to dual omnidirectional wide-band antennas mounted on rooftops (radios and antennas provided by Neul), enabling considerably further coverage than could have been achieved with conventional Wi-Fi, in 2.4 GHz, for example. The tests showed that TV white spaces can help extend broadband access and offload mobile broadband data traffic. These hotspots can enable users to enjoy data-intensive services such as online video provided by BBC iPlayer and Sky Go during peak usage times, when additional capacity and wider reach is needed.

Rural connectivity. A base station was installed at TTP’s headquarters in Melbourn, a rural community south of Cambridge, and linked to a household in Orwell. The residents benefited from radical improvements in their broadband service, up to 8Mbps net speed achieved over nearly 3.5-mile links, within an 8-megahertz bandwidth, using a modified, prototype version of the Neul Weightless technology. TTP anticipates it would be possible to achieve speeds greater than 20 Mbps from its headquarters to Orwell using radios further optimized for rural broadband connectivity while occupying a single, dedicated TV white space channel.

Machine-to-machine. Industry forecasts estimate there will be more than 50 billion connected devices by 2020, with a good proportion of these communicating and sharing information wirelessly, enabling a wide range of applications. As such, the trial explored machine-to-machine communication, often referred to as the Internet of Things. Utilizing the available white spaces, an application developed by BT and Neul sent an alert message to the city council when city dustbins were full and needed emptying. TV white spaces are uniquely placed to unlock the potential promised for the Internet of Things.

Location-based services. Nokia and Spectrum Bridge developed a location-based service application that was deployed in the Imperial War Museum in Duxford, one of Europe’s leading aircraft museums. As museum visitors move around the collection, they can receive prompts on their smart mobile device informing them about the items they can see and offering a rich array of related content, including video clips.

Lab and field measurements. In addition to the implementation of trial networks, Arqiva, BBC Research and Development, CSR and CRFS spearheaded considerable laboratory and field measurements to better define the parameters needed to develop the regulatory framework required to enable the use of white space devices. The results of this work are being provided to the relevant U.K. and European regulatory bodies. In addition, the BBC developed the first version of a U.K.-wide database, which illustrates the typical availability that might be expected for TV white space devices following the completion of the U.K. digital television switchover.

About the Consortium Partners

Adaptrum develops wireless broadband solutions and market-based mechanisms to enable new multi-use network infrastructure and service models to meet the growing wireless broadband demand. Based in Silicon Valley and founded in 2005, Adaptrum was an active participant in the FCC TV Whitespace Devices Testing in 2008 and contributed to the FCC’s rulemaking proceedings in 2008 and 2010. Adaptrum’s first-generation TV white space solution was recently certified by the FCC for commercial deployments in the U.S.

Alcatel-Lucent is the long-trusted partner of service providers, enterprises and governments around the world, and a leading innovator in the field of networking and communications technology, products and services. The company is home to Bell Labs, one of the world’s foremost research centers, responsible for breakthroughs that have shaped the networking and communications industry. Alcatel-Lucent was named one of MIT Technology Review’s 2012 Top 50 list of the “World’s Most Innovative Companies” for breakthroughs such as lightRadio, which cuts power consumption and operating costs on wireless networks while delivering lightning-fast Internet access. Through such innovations, Alcatel-Lucent is making communications more sustainable, more affordable and more accessible as we pursue our mission — Realizing the Potential of a Connected World.

Arqiva, the communications infrastructure and media services company, operates at the heart of the broadcast, satellite and mobile communications markets. The company is at the forefront of network solutions and services in the digital world. Arqiva provides much of the infrastructure behind television, radio, satellite and wireless communications in the U.K. and has a significant presence in Ireland, mainland Europe and the U.S. Customers include major broadcasters such as the BBC, ITV, BSkyB and the independent radio groups, major telco providers including the U.K.’s five mobile network operators, and the emergency services.

BBC exists to enrich people’s lives with great programs and services that inform, educate and entertain. It provides a wide range of distinctive programs and services for everyone, free of commercial interests and political bias, which include television, radio, national, local, children’s, educational, language and other services for key interest groups. The BBC is financed by a TV license paid by households. It does not have to serve the interests of advertisers or produce a return for shareholders.

BSkyB entertains and excites more than 10.3 million homes through its Sky service — the most comprehensive multichannel, multiplatform television service in the U.K. and Ireland. Sky also works with dozens of other broadcasters on the satellite platform, online and on mobile. The company is also the U.K.’s fastest-growing broadband and home phone provider, and operates The Cloud, one of the U.K.’s largest public Wi-Fi providers.

BT is one of the world’s leading providers of communications solutions and services, operating in more than 170 countries. Its principal activities include the provision of networked IT services globally; local, national and international telecommunications services to customers for use at home, at work and on the move; broadband and Internet products and services; and converged fixed/mobile products and services.

Cambridge Consultants has one of the largest independent wireless teams in the world, providing expertise on the vast array of wireless technologies that exist today and their application to a wide range of market areas.

CRFS is a leading developer and provider of real-time dynamic spectrum monitoring and signal acquisition systems. Its RFeye range of products sets a new standard for cost-effective high-performance monitoring and signal intercept. The RFeye is designed to operate fully autonomously in remotely distributed networks of nodes, including in hostile environments. Its many applications include public safety, security of sensitive buildings and installations, interference detection and geolocation, as well as background monitoring and creation of spectrum inventories. It has an important role to play in future deployments of white spaces dynamic access systems.

CSR is a global provider of innovative silicon and software solutions for the location-aware, media-rich, cloud-connected world. CSR provides solutions to complex problems in the audio-visual, connectivity and location technology domains across a broad range of markets, with a technology portfolio that includes GPS/GNSS systems, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, FM, NFC, aptX and CVC, JPEG, MPEG, H.264 imaging, PDL printing, microcontrollers, DSPs, and broadband receivers.

Digital TV Group (DTG) is the industry association for digital television in the U.K. The Group publishes and maintains the technical specification for the U.K.’s Freeview and Freeview HD platforms (the D-Book) and runs the digital television industry’s test center: DTG Testing.

Microsoft Corp. is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

Neul develops innovative and disruptive wireless network technology to enable the use of TV white spaces spectrum. Its products are the first and so far the only radios that fully meet the FCC white spaces radio specification. They provide reliable, secure, long-range wireless connectivity to satisfy the burgeoning market for data communications. By deploying or using a Neul network, customers benefit from unrivalled geographic coverage, increased network capacity and dramatically reduced costs.

Nokia is a global leader in mobile communications whose products have become an integral part of the lives of people around the world. Every day, more than 1.3 billion people use their Nokia to capture and share experiences, access information, find their way or simply speak to one another. Nokia’s technological and design innovations have made its brand one of the most recognized in the world.

Samsung is the leader in the global market for high-tech electronics manufacturing and digital media.

Spectrum Bridge Inc. is a provider of software and services to wireless service companies and equipment manufacturers.

TTP is Europe’s leading independent technology development company. The internationally acclaimed TTP team has been at the forefront of wireless communications for over 20 years, and are providing concept, design and production solutions to clients looking to exploit white spaces spectrum hardware and services across industries as diverse as telecommunications, emergency services, energy management and healthcare.

Virgin Media is the U.K.’s national cable network provider, delivering cutting-edge residential and business telecommunications services to the U.K. The company provides consumers with ultrafast broadband, digital TV and mobile services, as well as powers the needs of businesses up and down the country with a broad suite of enterprise solutions. Virgin Media is currently delivering a state-of-the-art public wireless network for the London Underground.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

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