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TV White Space Startup Raises $12.8M

Michelle Donegan
LR Mobile News Analysis
Michelle Donegan
6/29/2011
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U.K. TV white space startup Neul Ltd. announced today that it has raised £8 million (US$12.8 million) from a syndicate of investors led by DFJ Esprit LLP and including IQ Capital and Cambridge Angels .

The company's founders and employees also contributed to the funding. The money will help Neul to develop its technology platform as well as fund several trials that are underway, including those that Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) is involved in through the newly established Cambridge TV White Spaces Consortium. (See Microsoft Leads UK White Space Consortium.)

Neul is one of the members of the "Cambridge Consortium." In addition to Microsoft and Neul, the other members are the British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC) , Sky , BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA), Cambridge Consultants, Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK), Samsung Corp. , Spectrum Bridge Inc. and TTP, a European technology development company.

The group aims to determine whether TV white spaces -- that is, the unused TV channels that will be freed up in the 400MHz to 800MHz frequency range after the transition from analog to digital TV -- can be used in the U.K. for delivering broadband access to rural areas or offloading wireless data in densely populated cities without interfering with broadcast TV.

Neul has developed a system called NeulNET, which includes a base station and portable battery-powered terminal and can be used to build white space networks capable of delivering up to 16 Mbit/s per available white space channel over a range of up to 10 kilometers.

The company is targeting machine-to-machine (M2M) communications, smart meter communications and local broadband delivery as potential applications for the new technology.

Why this matters
According to Neul (which, by the way is from the Gaelic word for cloud and pronounced like "fuel"), there is up to 150MHz of white space spectrum available. That's a lot and it's free, which makes for a compelling business case. Of course, the challenge will be to prove that these new white space systems do not interfere with existing broadcast TV services. Neul claims its system is the first to meet the technical requirements that prevent such interference with TV equipment and wireless microphones as well as the FCC's adjacent channel power specification.

For more
The potential to use white space spectrum is now firmly on the U.K. wireless agenda, and here's how the issue has played out in the U.S.:



— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile

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