The University of Strathclyde is to lead the way in a new era for wireless communications after Communications Minister Ed Vaizey formally opened its Centre for White Space Communications.
The Centre, which builds on more than 30 years of experience in wireless and mobile digital communications and signal processing, is set to become a world-renowned centre of excellence.
Established with initial funding from the Scottish Funding Council, the Centre will engage with industry and government to develop and apply leading-edge dynamic spectrum technology to tap into unused white space spectrum capacity.
Mr Vaizey gave a keynote address at an inaugural event, attended by senior representatives from industry, academia, Ofcom and other Government offices.
He said: “The University of Strathclyde has a proud history of leading research on mobile communications technology and this new centre promises to take that work even further.
“This new facility provides an excellent opportunity for the UK to lead the development of this technology and realise the economic benefits of being at the forefront of this field.”
Working with partners such as Microsoft, BT and the BBC, the Centre will capitalise on the white space available in many frequency bands, and that made available from the discontinuation of analogue television, to shape the future for wireless access to the internet.
Applying dynamic spectrum access technology to the unused white space capacity enables better broadband access for rural communities, supporting businesses through online commerce and opening communication channels essential to health, education and business development.
The white space opportunity is not just UK based, and in Europe, the Americas, and Africa an era of public access to white space radio spectrum is approaching with Centre anticipating significant progress over the next few years.
Professor Sir Jim McDonald, Principal of the University of Strathclyde, said: “The Centre for White Space Communications is taking the lead to capitalise on a global opportunity that will have a positive impact on industry, business, communities and the wider economy.
“This is typical of the approach taken at the University of Strathclyde to actively engage with industry and ensure our world-class research reaches industry throughout Scotland, the UK, and beyond. Strathclyde has a prominent role in technological innovation and the launch of this centre will help to put Scotland at the forefront of economic and social developments in the field.”
Through engagement with industry, and policymakers, the Centre aims to advance technology to improve efficiency and extend the techniques to bands beyond the TV white spaces which are its current focus. This will enable improved wireless broadband access and a plethora of smart-rural developments - maximising the technical, economic, and social yield from spectrum.
The capabilities of white space spectrum for extending rural broadband access have already been demonstrated in a trial project on the Isle of Bute. Supported by the UK Technology Strategy Board, the project involved five industry collaborating partners (BT, BBC, Steepest Ascent Ltd, NetPropagate Ltd, Berg Design Ltd).
By accessing otherwise unused white space capacity on Bute, a number of homes can now enjoy excellent broadband internet access. The island had proved an ideal location to demonstrate initial benefits of the dynamic spectrum access technology, still in its infancy, and the best is yet to come.
Jim Beveridge, Senior Director, Microsoft Technology Policy Group, welcomed the launch of the initiative. He said: “We are excited about the potential and possibilities in the use of TV White Spaces technology. We see the launch of the Centre for White Space Communications as essential to this effort and another example of the UK leading the way in this field.
“We believe tapping unused spectrum will help support innovation in the UK’s tech sector and extend the broadband access needed by rural and unserved communities not only in the UK but globally, and essentially transform the local economies and create opportunities for ambitious SMEs.”
The launch event brought together representatives from key industry partners and organisations, including the Scottish Funding Council, the University of the Highlands and Islands, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and Ofcom.
22 January 2013