Globe Telecom wraps up TV white space trial for rural backhaul

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Globe Telecom says it has successfully completed a TV white space trial, with the aim of using the technology for wireless backhaul to deliver broadband services in remote areas.

The trial run was undertaken by Globe in partnership with NuRAN Wireless, a Canadian-based supplier of mobile and broadband wireless solutions. During the trials, NuRAN’s equipment generated up to 10 Mbps over distances of 7 and 12 kilometers. NuRAN will begin rolling out units later this year for broadband public access.

“The TV white space provides us with another means to bridge the digital divide in remote rural areas where traditional means of backhaul such as fiber or multi-hop microwave terrestrial backhaul does not make it economically viable for telecommunication providers to deploy broadband facilities,” said Globe senior VP for Network Technologies Strategy Emmanuel Estrada.

Estrada said the trials were in support of the company’s bid to maximize available spectrum given rapid increases in data consumption as it aims to improve the internet experience of its customers.

The trials were undertaken in partnership with the Information and Communications Technology Office of the Department of Science and Technology over the last eight months in several areas in the country, including Cebu and Bohol, Estrada said.

“TV white space” refers to the unused TV channels between the active ones in the VHF and UHF spectrum. These are typically referred to as the “buffer” channels. In the past, these buffers were placed between active TV channels to protect broadcasting interference. It has since been researched and proven that this unused spectrum can be used to provide broadband Internet access while operating harmoniously with surrounding TV channels.

Utilizing TV white space for propagation of internet service is a relatively new technology as TV broadcast began transitioning from analog to digital, which paved the way for the availability of more TV channels or frequencies that could be utilized for broadband use.

NuRAN’s technology focuses on UHF bands from 470 to 698 MHz.

Once in place, the technology is expected to provide an alternative wireless network that will provide data connectivity in far flung areas in Visayas and Mindanao.

Estrada said increasing demand for wireless data traffic and growing pressure to network capacity has spurred an interest to utilize these unallocated portions of the radio spectrum. The long range of TV white space frequencies means utilization of this frequency for broadband use would require less number of cell sites to provide coverage for a given geographic location compared with existing wireless technologies, he said.

This means that the use of the TV white space spectrum for propagation of broadband technologies is more cost-efficient for telco providers.

Globe says it is the first telco in the Philippines to make use of white space spectrum.

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