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BT Openreach trialling white space broadband on Isle of Bute
The telecoms giant is exploring the use of 'white space' technology to bring high-speed broadband to remote areas.BT Openreach has announced the launch of a wireless broadband trial on the Isle of Bute, located off the west coast of Scotland.
In partnership with BBC Research and Development, the University of Strathclyde, Steepest Ascent, Berg Design and Netpropagate, the telecoms giant is testing the use of so-called 'white space' technology to deliver internet access.
The pilot scheme works by taking advantage of unused radio waves in the ultra-high frequency television spectrum that are created between different TV channels.
Supported by funding from the government's Technology Strategy Board, the consortium aims to discover whether white spaces can be utilised to deliver high-speed broadband to isolated regions.
It is particularly keen to help out householders who have no access to broadband at all, or who are only able to connect to speeds of lower than 2Mbps due to the distance between their property and the nearest telephone exchange.
Although only in its initial stages, the test has already returned some "very promising" results, the group revealed.
However, to progress the research further, a series of live trials of the technology involving approximately a dozen Isle of Bute residents is set to get underway in July.
End users involved in the scheme will be connected to the Kilchattan Bay exchange, which will provide wireless broadband via a radio link with the mainland.
Liv Garfield, chief executive of Openreach, said the company is busy testing a range of technologies to help bring broadband to the UK's most isolated communities.
"One of these is based on white space and I'm glad to say the initial results are very encouraging," she explained.
"It's early days but our hope is that this technology may provide an effective solution for 'not spots' and 'slow spots'."
Telecoms regulator Ofcom has previously given its backing to the use of white spaces to increase the country's broadband coverage.
Director of technology resources Professor William Webb said: "Using the white spaces between TV channels is a good example of how we can both use spectrum more efficiently and provide opportunities for innovative new applications and services."