Feeds

How to build a national cellular wireless network for £50m

It's easy when all your customers are machines

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

A team of 20 developers in Cambridge wants to build a new radio network covering the entire country, but plans to cut costs by only offering connectivity to silicon-based customers.

The team has set up a company called Neul with plans to make use of unused TV frequencies ("white spaces"), and is busy designing base stations for national deployment.

The idea is to connect up all the electricity meters, cars, e-readers and suchlike over a new national network that the team reckons can be built for around the same amount that O2 spends on its network every couple of weeks.

White Space kit uses the same frequencies as terrestrial digital television, branded Freeview in the UK, but only in locations where they aren't being used to send TV pictures. Freeview can only reuse frequencies with huge geographic separations, so a band filled with TV in London can't be reused in Oxford, but a low-power transmitter in Oxford can use that same frequency for a different application without bothering the Londoners.

Professional wireless microphones have been doing that for decades (in the analogue TV bands before DTV) which is why the PMSE (Programme Making & Special Events) crowd are so upset about exploitation of white space.

But despite complaints from Dolly Parton and the Church of England, regulators around the world are set on making use of it, with most following the US model of unlicensed devices coordinated through online databases of available frequencies.

How those databases are to coordinate with each other is still under discussion in the US, and the UK hasn’t yet decided who will run such a thing. But Neul's CTO William Webb wrote the book on radio spectrum management (quite literally) and is confident that Ofcom will sort it all out in the next year or two which fits the company's schedule well.

White Space is often presented as being like Wi-Fi, only better, but that's a result of clever marketing by proponents rather than any technical or applicable similarity. White space refers to a series of geographically-restricted radio frequencies rather than any technical standard that requires interoperability; white space bands may be used by everything from TV remotes to broadband internet access, without any potential for them to be compatible.

Broadband internet is the poster child for white space applications, since it only requires two compatible devices (one at each end), but if standard technologies can be adopted then the frequencies have a much greater potential.

Neul is well aware of that, and plans to set up a Special Interest Group (SIG) later this year with a view to defining those standards.

The idea is for a client device, embedded in a car, e-reader or washing machine, to listen on various predefined slots within the white space frequency range. The device will only transmit in response to a poll from a fixed base station, that station then uses the online databases to be sure there aren't any local TV transmissions to interfere with.

HP ProLiant Gen8: Integrated lifecycle automation

More from The Register

next story
Scotland's BIG question: Will independence cost me my broadband?
They can take our lives, but they'll never take our SPECTRUM
Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage
Still doing 'forensics' on the caching layer – Beeb digi wonk
Bring back error correction, say Danish 'net boffins
We don't need no steenkin' TCP/IP retransmission and the congestion it causes
NBN Co adds apartments to FTTP rollout
Commercial trial locations to go live in September
GoTenna: How does this 'magic' work?
An ideal product if you believe the Earth is flat
Samsung Z Tizen OS mobe is post-phoned – this time for good?
Russian launch for Sammy's non-droid knocked back
Telstra to KILL 2G network by end of 2016
GSM now stands for Grave-Seeking-Mobile network
Seeking LTE expert to insert small cells into BT customers' places
Is this the first step to a FON-a-like 4G network?
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.