New TV Band technology brings hope for hard-to-reach customers

  • Uses "white spaces" in analogue TV radio spectrum
  • UK trials have achieved speeds of 16Mbps
  • Might prove an attractive alternative to satellite

A new wireless technology is being trialed in the US that might bring some faint glimmers of hope to those who are simply too far from an ADSL exchange or even too far for mobile broadband.

The new technology, alternately dubbed Super Wi-Fi or TV Band, sends a wireless signal through empty 700 megahertz (MHz) radio spectrum. The empty spectrum is often referred to as “white spaces”, and speeds of 16Mbps have been achieved in UK trials, though scientists are hoping to improve on that during US trials.

The 700MHz spectrum is commonly used for analogue TV broadcasts, and is particularly adept at penetrating buildings, dense foliage and other obstructions – better even than 4G mobile broadband technology, though not typically as fast. The technology might work in tandem with 4G, or separately to provide an alternative to satellite connections, which are typically too slow for today's bandwidth hungry applications.

No word on whether TV Band will be trialed in Australia any time soon, though the 700MHz spectrum is scheduled to go under the hammer at a license auction some time this year. With the NBN currently battling residents to install 40 meter wireless towers in rural areas, TV Band might prove an attractive alternative.