The university is proposing to bring gigabit speed internet to rural areas using “new spectrum” technology

Professor mahesh marina l and dr mohamed kassem

Professor Mahesh Marina, left, and Dr Mohammed Kasem hope to commercialize their ‘new spectrum’ technology. Photo: University of Edinburgh

A University of Edinburgh company is set to bring gigabit broadband to rural areas after developing breakthrough technology.

WhiteHaul uses “new spectrum” technology to greatly improve the backhaul capacity of fiber optic networks, increasing Internet connectivity over long distances and difficult terrain.

The company has now received £275,000 in funding from Scottish Enterprise, Scotland’s national economic development agency, to expand its products and services.

The technology will allow Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to provide users with gigabit-speed broadband in hard-to-reach areas at a significantly lower cost than current network technologies.

A gigabit means a speed of 1,000 megabits per second, or 1 gigabit, a speed typically only available in cities and through “full fiber” networks.

WhiteHaul’s new spectrum aggregation technology enables high-speed long-haul backhaul connections that are not currently commercially achievable with existing fiber or wireless technologies.

Existing wireless technologies suffer from high levels of radio interference, resulting in poor range performance. WhiteHaul’s technology manages radio interference, resulting in reliable network connectivity.

The technology was developed as part of Dr Mohamed Qassem’s PhD at the University of Edinburgh’s School of Informatics, led by Professor Mahesh Marina, and is supporting the team to study: Edinburgh Innovations, the university’s commercialization service.

Professor Marina said: “WhiteHaul will play an important role in supporting the UK Government’s ambitions to reach 85 per cent of the UK’s land area with gigabit coverage by 2025, and close to 100 per cent as soon as possible thereafter. From previous work, we have seen the vital importance of rural connectivity for agriculture, business, health and education.”

Dr. Kasem, Chief Technology Officer, said: “Furthermore, as a proprietary manufacturing company, WhiteHaul will help diversify the telecommunications network’s supply chain, another key policy objective. And by reducing the need to travel to work and the associated carbon emissions, gigabit broadband in rural areas also supports the transition to net zero.”

The funding, provided from the Scottish Enterprise High Growth Spin-Out Program (HGSP), will be used to enhance the performance of WhiteHaul’s hardware and software platform and accelerate the commercialization of the technology. The team is also investigating other applications of the technology, including connecting offshore wind farms and the possibility of connected farms and the Internet of Things.

Jane Martin, managing director of innovation and investment at Scottish Enterprise, said: “Our High Growth Interdisciplinary Program continues to support exciting and ambitious new companies from innovation in Scotland’s universities through start-up mentoring, investment and commercialisation.

WhiteHaul has created a new solution to connect rural areas with the potential to deliver benefits and boost rural economies across Scotland and it will be exciting to see the team take the company to its next stage as it spins out of Edinburgh Innovations.”

Led by Interim CEO Iqbal Bedi Singh of Intelligens Consulting, WhiteHaul’s future focus will be on raising seed investment, building its customer pipeline and developing an operational strategy to bring it to production.

WhiteHaul will be attending the Connected North telecoms event in Manchester on 17-18 April.

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