Feeds

Cambridge startup launches world's first white space radio

16Mb/s, 10km range, battery-powered and licence-free... just not legal

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Neul, the Cambridge startup staffed by some of the UK's top radio boffins, has started manufacturing a white space radio, despite the fact that there isn't a single country where such a thing would be legal to use.

Neul launched last year, and has been talking about protocols and standards for use in white space: television broadcast frequencies not being used locally. Now the company has real kit to sell, offering connection speeds of up to 16Mb/sec (declining rapidly with range but extending to 10km at a push) for organisations that want to see what white space can do for them – once they've obtained an experimental licence of course.

Such licences aren't hard to obtain: Neul told us that Ofcom processed its application within a couple of weeks, though we can't help feeling the company's pedigree of staff might have eased the process. But within a couple of years such a licence shouldn't be necessary as Ofcom is poised to allow unlicensed exploitation of the UK's white spaces.

The NeulNet boxes

That unlicensed use will be technology neutral, just as 2.4GHz is now, so any networking kit will have to contend with garage door openers, baby listeners and so forth. White space transmitters will be required to check with an online database to see what frequencies are available, which should prevent the more-trivial applications, but expect to see a wide variety of applications filling the bandwidth once it opens up in the next few years.

Neul reckons the best mitigation for that is to create a standard protocol, just as the majority of devices at 2.4GHz are using the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi standards which have learned to get along. The proposed standard is called "Weightless", and will be formally launched in the next few weeks, with a conference to discuss the standard scheduled for the end of September – only then will we be able to see how widely (and if) it gets adopted.

Predictions for embedded, and networked, devices vary by tens of billions, but most observers agree that they'll be something in the region of 50 billion devices looking for a network connection in the next few decades. Neul has calculated it could build a national Weightless network to connect British ones up, reaching into the basement of every home in the UK, for £50m or so. Neul isn't planning to do that, but would love to sell the kit to someone who wanted to, or even license the design (and patents) to a manufacturer who fancied making some Weightless radios.

But that's for the future. Today the company can sell a working base station and battery-powered clients (A4 in size) for experimentation. It's the ideal Father's Day gift for anyone who thinks they might have something we can use to fill the empty spaces. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Of COURSE Stephen Elop's to blame for Nokia woes, says author
'Google did have some unique propositions for Nokia'
FCC, Google cast eye over millimetre wireless
The smaller the wave, the bigger 5G's chances of success
It's even GRIMMER up North after MEGA SKY BROADBAND OUTAGE
By 'eck! Eccles cake production thrown into jeopardy
Mobile coverage on trains really is pants
You thought it was just *insert your provider here*, but now we have numbers
Don't mess with Texas ('cos it's getting Google Fiber and you're not)
A bit late, but company says 1Gbps Austin network almost ready to compete with AT&T
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.