Television "white spaces", spare capacity in the ultra-high frequency television broadcast spectrum, have the potential to plug the broadband deficit in rural areas, according to the White Spaces Consortium, a collection of technology and media companies.
The claim follows 10 months of live trials in urban and rural areas, in and around Cambridge.
The consortium tested a range of applications – including rural wireless broadband, urban "pop-up" coverage and machine-to-machine communication, and concluded that TV white spaces can be utilised to help satisfy the fast increasing demand for wireless connectivity.
"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 UK is playing a leading role by exploring the use of licence-exempt access to TV white spaces and developing a model regulatory framework [with communications regulator Ofcom]," said the consortium in a statement.
"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 one gigahertz," said Communications Minister Ed Vaizey.
The consortium has also consulted with Ofcom to ensure that the technology can be harnessed through a regulatory framework to benefit consumers and promote further innovation in the UK.
The consortium urged Ofcom to complete its development of the enabling regulatory framework in a manner that will protect licensees from harmful interference and encourage innovation and deployment.
The Cambridge TV White Spaces Consortium comprises a number of major technology and media companies, including Adaptrum, Alcatel-Lucent, Arqiva, BBC, BSkyB, BT, Cambridge Consultants, CRFS, CSR plc, Digital TV Group, Microsoft, Neul, Nokia, Samsung, Spectrum Bridge, The Technology Partnership and Virgin Media.