BT trials white-space system for connecting smart cities

British white-space communications pioneer Neul has properly taken the wraps off its internet of things platform, NeulNET, and announced that telecoms giant BT(s bt) will trial it over the coming months.

NeulNET is based on the new Weightless standard, which takes unused fragments of radio spectrum and harnesses them to connect smart meters, structural-integrity sensors and other devices without needing dedicated spectrum. Low power is the name of the game – this is all about devices that can run for many years without needing new batteries or other maintenance. Think of this technology as the machine-to-machine connectivity glue for the “smart cities” concept.

The new system is supposed to give operators everything they need to dive into this new world of connected lampposts and bridges. At the heart of it is the NeulNET Connected Device Platform (CDP), a cloud-based platform for device and service-level management, authentication and billing, for which operators will pay on a “per device, per month” basis.

Also included is the NN2510 base station, ready for up-to-5km transmission and suitable for sticking on street furniture, and NT1001 terminal modules that are based on Neul’s Iceni radio chip (the firm loves its Celtic nomenclature – “Neul” is Scottish Gaelic for “cloud” and the Iceni were a notable British tribe in the Roman era). According to Neil, two AA batteries will keep one of these modules going for 10-15 years, and the modules “can communicate from deep within buildings and underground.”

BT’s mobile strategy director Mark Harrop (yes, BT has a mobile strategy again) summed things up nicely in a quote in Wednesday’s statement:

“The Internet of Things market has huge potential, but existing short-range and cellular networking technologies are unable to meet the requirements of many applications we see. A networking technology that can provide deep indoor coverage, last for many years from a single battery, is simple to use, and comes at the right price point is essential for realizing the true potential of the IoT.”

Let’s see how BT’s trial pans out. Neul also said in its statement that there would be further deployment announcements throughout this year.