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Microsoft Leads UK White Space Consortium

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Light Reading
6/29/2011
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CAMBRIDGE, U.K. -- Today, representatives from some of the UK’s largest technology and media companies announced the formation of the Cambridge TV White Spaces Consortium. The group is undertaking technology trials to explore how the unused TV spectrum could provide an inexpensive solution to satisfy the escalating wireless connectivity requirements of UK consumers and businesses in towns, cities and rural areas.

The consortium issued this statement: “With the number of connected devices and data applications growing rapidly, and with mobile networks feeling the strain, we must find ways of satisfying the traffic demands of today and tomorrow. This trial will attempt to demonstrate that unused TV spectrum is well-placed to increase the UK’s available mobile bandwidth, which is critical to effectively responding to the exponential growth in data-intensive services, while also enabling future innovation.”

The consortium includes several of the UK’s largest technology and media companies and will test technologies under a variety of scenarios to assess how TV white spaces could be used to facilitate communications and information services. This will include streaming high-quality video and audio content from the BBC and BSkyB over the TV white spaces spectrum to a range of mobile devices, including some from Nokia and Samsung. The TV white spaces hotspots will include local pubs, other leisure venues, and commercial and residential premises. And although the trial is not open to the public, visitors from the industry will be invited to experience a number of planned demonstrations.

The consortium chose Cambridge for the trial because it has a long history in developing novel wireless communication technologies and offers an environment for testing diverse uses of the TV white spaces network. The city is distinguished by a dense mixture of buildings, including the historic stone buildings of its colleges, which offer a unique opportunity to demonstrate the penetration of TV white spaces signals when compared with other higher frequency networks such as Wi-Fi. And although Cambridge itself has good broadband access, some neighbouring villages suffer poor broadband service, allowing the advantageous range of TV white spaces communications to be demonstrated.

  • BBC exists to enrich people’s lives with great programmes and services that inform, educate and entertain. It provides a wide range of distinctive programmes and services for everyone, free of commercial interests and political bias, which include television, radio, national, local, children’s, educational, language and other services for key interest groups. The BBC is financed by a TV license paid by households. It does not have to serve the interests of advertisers or produce a return for shareholders.
  • BSkyB’s Sky entertains and excites more than 10.1 million homes through the most comprehensive multichannel, multi-platform television service in the UK and Ireland. Sky also works with dozens of other broadcasters on the satellite platform, online and on mobile. The company is also the UK's fastest-growing broadband and home phone provider and recently acquired The Cloud, one of the UK’s largest public Wi-Fi providers.
  • BT is one of the world’s leading providers of communications solutions and services, operating in more than 170 countries. Its principal activities include the provision of networked IT services globally; local, national and international telecommunications services to customers for use at home, at work and on the move; broadband and internet products and services; and converged fixed/mobile products and services.
  • Cambridge Consultants has one of the largest independent wireless teams in the world, providing expertise on the vast array of wireless technologies that exist today and their application to a wide range of market areas.
  • Microsoft Corp is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realise their full potential.
  • Neul develops innovative and disruptive wireless network technology to enable the use of TV white spaces spectrum. Its products are the first and so far the only radios that fully meet the FCC white spaces radio specification. They provide reliable, secure, long-range wireless connectivity to satisfy the burgeoning market for data communications. By deploying or using a Neul network, customers benefit from unrivalled geographic coverage, increased network capacity and dramatically reduced costs.
  • Nokia is the world’s leading mobile phone supplier and a leading supplier of mobile telecom networks including related customer services.
  • Samsung is the leader in the global market for high-tech electronics manufacturing and digital media.
  • Spectrum Bridge Inc is a provider of software and services to wireless service companies and equipment manufacturers.
  • TTP is Europe’s leading independent technology development company. The internationally acclaimed TTP team has been at the forefront of wireless communications for over 20 years, and are providing concept, design and production solutions to clients looking to exploit white spaces spectrum hardware and services across industries as diverse as telecommunications, emergency services, energy management and healthcare.

    Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)

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