With the potential of ‘white space’ communication in our industry still to be proven, a new trial to be conducted by British communications service giant BT should provide some important insights.

BT is to conduct initial technical assessments of Cambridge, U.K.-based technology provider Neul Ltd’s newly released two-way, wide area networking solution NeulNET, which is based on  the Weightless open standard for white space M2M communication.

“The Internet of Things market has huge potential, but existing short range and cellular networking technologies are unable to meet the requirements of many applications we see,” explained Mark Harrop, BT’s director of Mobile Strategy and Wireless Cities Program lead, in a statement. “A networking technology that can provide deep indoor coverage, last for many years from a single battery, is simple to use, and comes at the right price point is essential for realizing the true potential of the IoT. The NeulNET solution promises to deliver on these requirements, and we’re excited to be trialing this over the coming months.”

NeulNET is claimed to comprise every element which an operator needs to provide a scalable, secure, resilient and economical service offering, enabling them to capitalize on the Internet of Things opportunity. This includes:

  • NeulNET Connected Device Platform (CDP), which is offered as a service providing cloud-based services for managing service levels, authentication and billing together with device management
  • NN2510 base station, which is suitable for street furniture mounting, with an up to 5 km range
  • NT1001 terminal modules incorporating Neul’s Iceni RF transceiver chip, with 2 AA batteries providing a 10-15-year operating life.

The system is designed to operate in both licensed and unlicensed spectrum and works across a variety of frequencies from global unlicensed metering bands (169 MHz or lower) up to and including sub-GHz cellular bands. Service providers may then use unlicensed spectrum or their own licensed spectrum as they choose.

Neul has been a strong proponent of white space communication and in 2012 demonstrated in the U.K. the first smart meter reading over white space. The company, along with ARM, Cable & Wireless Worldwide, and CSR, and more recently Accenture, has also been behind the development of the Weightless standard, v1.0 of which was ratified last year.

White space spectrum is the unused portions of the spectrum, both licensed and unlicensed, with large areas having become available in the transition to digital television, primarily in the 400-800 MHz band.

Neul anticipates further announcements of NeulNET deployments during 2014.

For more on Weightless see “Weightless and white space communication” by William Webb in Smart Energy International Issue 1 2013, p 54.

By Jonathan Spencer Jones