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We all want more connectivity, whether it is WiFi around the office, the game console on the home network and your 4G device of... A14 The UK’s First Smart Road

We all want more connectivity, whether it is WiFi around the office, the game console on the home network and your 4G device of choice giving you super fast connection to the internet whilst out and about.  Well why stop there? Why not connect you to the internet whilst you commute? Well, fear not, because the A14 is set to become the UK’s first internet-connected road as part of a trial that will test whether new wireless technology can help improve road safety and reduce congestion.   Behold, the Smart Road is born.

Smart Road

The system works by sensors being placed along the A14 between Felixstowe and Cambridge, approximately a 70 mile long stretch of road, thus creating a ‘smart road’ which could transmit data on traffic movement.  Messages could then be sent to the mobile devices of passing drivers regarding upcoming traffic.  The technology could even pave the way for the Government to automatically control car speeds.  British Telecommunications is running the trial beside Cambridge technology specialists Neul and the Department of Transport and it comes as part of a wider pilot of next-generation wireless internet.

Telecom watchdog Ofcom has announced that the UK will become one of the first countries in the world to road-test “white space” technology (this sends signals over the gaps between television channels rather than the mobile phone network).  The radio waves used by white space devices can travel longer distances and more easily through walls thanks to the low frequency they use, potentially helping to better connect the remote parts of the UK.

Around 20 companies and public bodies will be putting the new technology to the test over the next six months after Ofcom approved the projects, as it looks at the future of the radio spectrum in the UK.  Microsoft will test how white spaces can provide people with free Wi-Fi in Glasgow, while internet service provider Click4internet will see whether the technology can assist some rural communities receive broadband.

Chief technology officer at Ofcom, Steve Unger, called spectrum the “raw material that will underpin the next revolution” in wireless communications and said further research should be undertaken.  “In the future it won’t be just mobiles and tablets that are connected to the internet; billions of other things including cars, crops, coffee machines and cardiac monitors will also be connected, using tiny slivers of spectrum to get online…This is likely to deliver large benefits to society; however there isn’t an unlimited supply of spectrum to meet this extraordinary demand. This is why we need to explore new ways of unlocking the potential of spectrum, like white space technology, to get the most from this valuable national resource.” he said.

Ofcom anticipates the technology could be fully rolled out during 2014 if the pilot test is a success, thereby enabling the use of white space across the country.  Stay tuned and stay connected.

[Image via wallsable]