LONDON Ė Neul Ltd., a startup company pioneering the use of white space radio, has set up a city-wide network in Cambridge, England, to demonstrate smart meter reading and other applications.
The network set up follows on from 10 months of testing in urban and rural areas around Cambridge by the the Cambridge TV White Spaces Consortium, which comprises leading international and UK technology and media companies.The consortium includes Alcatel-Lucent, BBC, BSkyB, BT, Cambridge Consultants, CSR, Microsoft, Neul, Nokia, Samsung, TTP and Virgin Media.
White space is name given to the unused and underused parts of the wireless spectrum. For example, around the world many TV channels are left vacant in most locations to prevent TV signal to TV signal interference. Neul's technology opens up these channels and will also allow underused frequencies within other UHF licensed and unlicensed bands to be used efficiently for wireless communication. This can be used for Internet of Things (IoT) communications and applications such as meter reading and machine monitoring as well as for rural broadband delivery.
To demonstrate this network Neul, in collaboration with Bglobal Metering, is demonstrating smart electricity meter reading over a white space network. This is a step towards smart electricity grids that will allow electricity supply to be more efficiently matched to real-time demand. In addition to the smart grid, Neul's networking technology opens up possibilities for smart transport and traffic management, city lighting and other municipal services.
Neul's network comprises five basestations around the city of Cambridgr and one basestation in a rural community south of Cambridge; a cloud-hosted network Operational & Management Centre (OMC) that efficiently and securely manages the communications between the internet and the things and support for the geo-location databases that ensure wireless microphones, TV transmission and reception are not disrupted. The network operates using the Weightless standard, which is being developed by Neul and other interested parties.
Although the network still operates under an experimental RF license in the UK Neul is anticipating commercial trials in Cambridge in 2012 and a full roll out of the technology in 2013. Neul is already selling equipment into the United States for use in rural broadband provision using white space radio.
Neul argues that the explosion of use cases for the Internet of Things requires dedicated communications channels and standards to cope with high numbers of user nodes and low cost and low maintenance requirements.
"Mobile networks are great for people but terrible for machines. At Neul we are today demonstrating that the Smart City can happen now with a new wireless standard called 'Weightless' specifically designed for embedding in electricity and gas meters, air quality sensors, recycling points, street lighting, parking spaces, traffic lights and, well, things rather than people," said Glenn Collinson, cofounder and director at Neul, in a statement.
Neul, founded in 2010 by some of the original founders of Cambridge Silicon Radio, is included in version 13.0 of the Silicon 60 list of emerging startups published by EE Times. Neul joined the list in version 12.5 published in April 2011.
Related links and articles:
EE Times updates 'Silicon 60' list of emerging startups
Neul 'white space' radio ICs to sample in 2012
Do machines dream of IoT?
UK plans for white-space radio by 2013