The Centre for White Space Communications has been awarded a £330,000 grant from the Scottish Government to develop and implement a White Space pilot network in Orkney.

The 12‑month project will involve the setting up of Wi-Fi hot-spots on three council-operated ferries; providing Internet access to ferry passengers during their journeys. Further infrastructure will then be added to support the delivery of broadband services to six extremely remote rural locations where existing intervention programmes are not planned.

The project will build upon the knowledge and experience gained during an earlier urban demonstrator project which involved the setting up of a test network on the University campus, and will allow the latest White Space technology to be evaluated in a ‘live’ environment.

The Centre will work with Orkney-based CloudNet IT Solutions and other partners to evaluate the technology as well as the commercial viability and societal impact of connectivity in hard-to-reach rural locations.

The use of White Space spectrum represents an entirely new way of managing radio spectrum, with considerable potential for greatly enhancing the overall efficiency of spectrum utilisation. The UK regulator, Ofcom, has recently put regulations in place to allow access to White Space spectrum, and it is expected that new wireless applications and business models will emerge.

The Centre for White Space Communications’s lead partner and host is the University of Strathclyde, and our department has a long history of work-class research in signal processing and communications. While the main focus of the Centre lies in the technical aspects of effectively utilizing White Space spectrum, social aspects and business models are also important and this complementary work is carried out in conjunction with the University of the Highlands and Islands, and the University of Stirling.

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