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White Space Technology

White space is a cutting-edge technology that could improve rural broadband availability in rural areas.  Scotland is a world leader in this area, having created a world-leading centre for research and development at Strathclyde University.

The use of TV ‘white spaces’, which exist in between frequency bands traditionally reserved for TV broadcasting, can allow new devices to transmit and receive wireless signals.   It could, therefore, be an important way of delivering improved broadband to rural or remote areas. 

Like television signals, it travels further, is better going round and over hills, through stone walls and trees, and over water.  In Scotland’s rural and remote areas, this gives white space a big advantage over other forms of wireless technology, such as Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. 

This could mean that remote houses and villages are connected to the internet via a network of transmitters that use white spaces to link to larger towns that are already connected. 

Scotland has been at the forefront of testing the technology, with a high profile trial in Bute.

The 18-month white space trial on the Isle of Bute was the first of its kind in the UK and helped prove the viability of using TV white space for rural broadband delivery in a ‘live’ environment, without impacting existing television and radio channels.

The trial provided wireless broadband connectivity to eight homes in the south part of the island, which had previously been unable to connect to the internet.  Some have described the broadband they received, which was typically 2-8 Mbps, as “life changing”. An evaluation report of the trial, published in June 2013, is available for download.

Yet another first for Scotland in this cutting-edge area of white space is Strathclyde University’s Centre for White Space Communications.  This world-leading Centre for research and development on white space technologies was inaugurated in January 2013. 

Although currently focused on TV white spaces, the Centre aims to improve the efficiency of, and extend the techniques to other frequency bands, while exploring how new developments in spectrum access can be applied to meet social and commercial needs.  It is set to lead the way in this new era of wireless communications. 

Link: Centre for White Space Communications


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