Neul deploys first city-wide white space network in Cambridge

Following a UK trial, Neul launched the world's first city-wide network using TV white space spectrum in the city of Cambridge, England.

The company said it will demonstrate, in collaboration with Bglobal Metering, the world's first smart electricity meter reading over a white space network, which take advantage of unused spectrum between TV broadcast stations. Neul said it plans to move to commercial trials later this year followed by a full service launch in 2013.

Neul said it was also looking at other applications, including enabling smarter transport and traffic management, city lighting and other municipal services that could benefit from using white space networks.

The Cambridge network has five base stations around the city of Cambridge and one located in a rural community south of Cambridge. It is using a cloud-hosted network Operational & Management Centre to manage the communications between devices and the network. 

"In a world of smartphones and mobile broadband it is easy to imagine that wireless connectivity has now been solved," said Neul co-founder Glenn Collinson in a statement. "It hasn't. Mobile broadband is too expensive for 'things' in the Smart City. Also mobile broadband means battery powered devices would need changing far too often. And all those sensors would load the cellular networks to such a level that there would be little network capacity left."

According to Collinson, existing mobile networks are not suitable for M2M applications. "At Neul we are today demonstrating that the Smart City can happen now with a new wireless standard called 'Weightless' specifically designed for embedding in electricity and gas meters, air quality sensors, recycling points, street lighting, parking spaces, traffic lights and...well ... 'things' rather than people."

Forward Concepts analyst Will Strauss said this move was a major milestone in smart meter reading. "Technologies available today simply cannot realistically deal with the cost, power and propagation requirements of many elements of the Smart City," he said in a  statement. "This sharp movement towards a world of ubiquitous M2M communication has huge implications and the industry will be watching closely."

For more:
- see this Neul release
- see this White Space trial release
- see this WSJ blog post (sub. req.)

Related Articles
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BT extends white spaces trial to Cornwall
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