updated 10:55 am EST, Mon November 5, 2012
White space control could lead to free national public Wi-Fi
Google and Microsoft are both seeking control of the UK's unused spectrum, according to reports. The white spaces, sections of radio spectrum used as a buffer between bands employed by mobile, radio, and television services, could potentially be used by the technology giants to offer nationwide broadband services to the population.
According to senior government sources of The Telegraph, both companies have expressed "extreme interest" in white spaces. While Ofcom has plans to permit companies the use of white spaces by next year, it is currently in the process of persuading the government to allow it to offer out the spectrum.
While the plan each company has for using white spaces is unknown, both Google and Microsoft are eager to take control for their own purposes, with one government source suggesting it as a way of "offering something different to Apple" to customers. Analysts suggest that Google could use white spaces to offer free or low-cost high-speed Internet access to the public, in a similar manner to the Google Fiber project. Microsoft, on the other hand, could opt to allow users of Windows Phone handsets free Internet access, or expand on the existing work completed by Nokia in Cambridge, using an N9 for indoor positioning.
The first official, non-trial instance of white space wireless went live in the US in January. The access point in Wilmington, North Carolina, is intended for linking outdoor cameras and systems for monitoring purposes, though more public-facing plans are also being worked on.