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White Space: the broadband alternative for remote islands?

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Looking across a bay towards houses on Bute, with the tide out
THAT'S BUTE: venturing into White Space (picture:

St Helena’s not the only remote island that can’t get broadband internet – but some of the more sparsely-populated outcrops of the British Isles may have found a way round the problem.

It’s called “white space” (whatever that is), and so far it’s reaching just ten homes fitted with special aerials on the Scottish island of Bute – which is bigger than St Helena, has twice as many people, and is nowhere near as isolated.

The small transmitter takes advantage of spare “spectrum” no longer needed for television broadcasts, according to BBC News.

In the meantime, if the Connect St Helena! campaign succeeds in diverting an undersea cable, it seems St Helena might actually be better off than many of those remote Scottish islands.

That’s if it isn’t already…

  • Could White Space help St Helena? “The short answer is ‘no’,” says Christian von der Ropp of Connect St Helena! campaign. And here’s the long answer:

“White Space” and “Digital Dividend” (N.B. not “Digital Divide”) refer to radio frequencies originally allocated to terrestrial TV broadcast service which have remained unused and instead are to be used to deliver broadband Internet to homes lacking a wired broadband connection, usually because the distance to next telephone switch is too great for telephone-line based ADSL-service. However whatever radio technology is deployed (UMTS or LTE) in this unused frequency spectrum (spectrum = a certain frequency range) it can only bridge some 10-15km and so can only serve the so-called “last mile”. These frequencies would only be suitable to deliver Internet from a radio tower on St Helena to Saints’ homes but cannot bridge those thousands of kilometres to the next large Internet hub (Luanda or Cape Town).

Can White Space fill in the broadband gaps?
Connect St Helena! campaign

Internet cable for St Helena: ‘We’re interested’ says The Castle

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