Nominet brings broadband to rural Wales

Nominet, the official UK domain registry, has begun the next phase of its TV white space broadband technology rollout in Monmouthshire.

The organisation is working with Broadway Partners, which specialises in rural technology installation, to bring high-quality internet access to rural parts of Wales.

Following the success of the Arran Broadband initiative in Scotland, Monmouthshire County Council asked Nominet and Broadway Partners to deliver broadband connectivity to the local community in Llanarth using dynamic spectrum management.

TV white space refers to frequencies that were made available following the digital television switchover in the UK, and it’s capable of creating two-way communications at high-data rates over long distances.

This enables connectivity in large, open areas where it’d be challenging to implement new connections. Nominet has been using a geo-location database to ensure that TVWS signals don’t interfere with TV broadcasts.

It tells devices what frequencies they can use, at what power and for how long. Currently, the UK average broadband speed is 22.8Mbps, but around 170 homes in Llanarth experience poor broadband with an average speed of just 2.5Mbps.

Over the next six months, nine households within the community will test out this technology. One participant, who works as a graphic designer, was paying more than £90 a month for broadband but was getting slow speeds.

Now, thanks to the TVWS technology, he’s experiencing speeds of up to 30Mbps. The council has already launched a digital strategy to help businesses and citizens get the most out of technology.

And it’s just applied for funding from the Welsh government’s Rural Development Programme, which could eventually lead to county-wide deployment.

Russell Haworth, CEO of Nominet, said: “Rural communities deserve a fair deal on broadband just like everybody else and TV white space is proving to be a gamechanger.

“Following the success of our technology on the Isle of Arran; the pilot in Llanarth is further proof that dynamic spectrum management has great potential to narrow the digital divide in the UK, giving people in remote areas access to a high-speed internet service that they would otherwise be without.”

Michael Armitage, founder director of Broadway Partners, said: “TV white space is a resilient and affordable option that brings high-speed internet to areas that have struggled to get online in the past.

“Llanarth is a beautiful but remote village, with residents who need access to better connectivity in order to grow their businesses and get more out of everyday life. We look forward to a successful pilot and continued collaboration with Monmouthshire County Council to expand the scheme.”

Adam Leach, director of R&D at Nominet, added: “It’s fantastic to see the dynamic spectrum technology that we developed at Nominet being built into new ways of delivering broadband in areas where it would be difficult to deploy fixed infrastructure, proving the value of spectrum sharing both in the UK and internationally.”