TV white space brings broadband to rural Wales

12th May 2017

Nominet is today announcing the next phase of its TV white space (TVWS) broadband technology, in partnership with Broadway Partners, with installations beginning in Llanarth Parish, Monmouthshire.

Following the launch of Arran Broadband – which uses TVWS to deliver high-speed broadband to the more remote areas of a Scottish island – Monmouthshire County Council approached Nominet and Broadway Partners to install a pilot scheme that will deliver broadband connectivity to the local community in Llanarth using dynamic spectrum management.

TV white space is the name given to the frequencies made available following the digital TV switchover in the UK. It can create two-way communications at relatively high-data rates over long distances, enabling connectivity in large open areas where it would be inconvenient to put in new connections. To ensure that TVWS signals don’t interfere with TV broadcasts, Nominet’s geo-location database tells devices what frequencies they can use, at what power, and for how long.

Currently, around 170 households in Llanarth experience poor broadband with an average speed of just 2.5Mbps, compared to the UK average of 22.8Mbps. The community is diverse, with a number of young professionals moving to the area for its scenic beauty, but soon realising that poor connectivity is hindering their ability to work.

In the TV white space pilot, nine households within Llanarth’s five main areas will test the technology for six months. One participant – graphic designer, Martin Phillips of Red90 – was paying over £90 a month, with a data cap, to access internet fast enough to work with the large files that his job requires. Now, he is experiencing speeds of up to 30Mbps via TVWS technology.

Faster internet will result in better connectivity for homes and businesses in the area, and help narrow the digital divide, as older members of the community are encouraged to come online. Monmouthshire County Council is supporting digital inclusion through many avenues, including its i-county digital strategy covering businesses, citizens and the digital maturity of the council itself. It is also applying for funding from the Welsh government’s Rural Development Programme, which could eventually lead to county-wide deployment.

Russell Haworth, CEO of Nominet, said: “Rural communities deserve a fair deal on broadband just like everybody else and TV white space is proving to be a gamechanger. Following the success of our technology on the Isle of Arran; the pilot in Llanarth is further proof that dynamic spectrum management has great potential to narrow the digital divide in the UK, giving people in remote areas access to a high-speed internet service that they would otherwise be without.”

Michael Armitage, Founder Director of Broadway Partners said: “TV white space is a resilient and affordable option that brings high-speed internet to areas that have struggled to get online in the past. Llanarth is a beautiful but remote village, with residents who need access to better connectivity in order to grow their businesses and get more out of everyday life. We look forward to a successful pilot and continued collaboration with Monmouthshire County Council to expand the scheme.”

Adam Leach, Director of R&D at Nominet, said: “It’s fantastic to see the dynamic spectrum technology that we developed at Nominet being built into new ways of delivering broadband in areas where it would be difficult to deploy fixed infrastructure, proving the value of spectrum sharing both in the UK and internationally.”