Feature Article

March 30, 2012

White Space Hopes to Bring Reliable Broadband Connectivity to UK's Rural Areas

It’s a well-known fact that broadband services are less available in rural areas, but with the digital dividend from television’s analog to digital transformation, there is a whole new horizon open for exploration. A newly implemented means of broadband delivery, dubbed “White Space”, is in its early stages of testing on the small Scottish Isle of Bute.

This new solution travels through the now-unused UHF band and is capable of delivering speeds upwards of 8Mbits/s – about the average rate of a DSL connection. Traditional hard-wired methods of delivery are impractical in remote areas due to the need for excessive resources.

The farther a cable line is stretched, the weaker the signal gets, which is clearly demonstrated by Bute’s average connection speed of less than 1Mbit/s. Chris Gibbs of BT, the company running the trials, stated, “Although it has the same characteristics as copper – the further you go the worse the signal gets – it goes a bit further, and that's the advantage”

BT warns that this new means of connectivity is still in its early days, but at the same time are seeing promising results. With the already blazing fast speeds of 4G networks though, one has to ask; will White Space really catch on? Sure, it may be the only means of Internet access in a great deal of rural areas, but will there even be enough consumers to support it?

The answers to these questions and many more will be made clear when pricing and conclusive test results are announced, but like BT said, things are looking very promising thus far.

New ideas and methods of broadband deployment are always surfacing, and BT’s White Space solution could very well prove effective. If so, businesses and consumers across the UK would surely benefit – Internet access is becoming a necessity in just about everyone’s lives, and those living in rural areas shouldn’t have to be an exception.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

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