Google and Microsoft have reportedly expressed “extreme interest” in an unused segment of spectrum in the UK known as white space. The airwaves lie between existing spectrum used to broadcast television, radio and mobile Internet services and serve as a buffer to prevent interference between the different signals.
Essentially it’s wasted airspace, according to telecom regulator Ofcom. They say that recycling airwaves is a highly efficient way to use what little spectrum is left. The group hopes to develop this white space as a platform for mobile broadband services which is where Google and Microsoft’s interest ties in.
Wi-fi service of this type would be useful in rural areas that might not otherwise have access to any type of speedy Internet but big companies like Google and Microsoft might have other plans. If either were to gain access, they could build a large public wireless network that could give them an added advantage over the competition.
Microsoft has been interested in this white space for quite some time. They led a consortium in June 2011 to determine if the spectrum could be used for broadband services without disrupting nearby signals.
The plan is to begin rolling out this white space for use by next year. Ofcom still needs government approval to determine which companies will be allowed to utilize it, however. There was no mention of exactly how much spectrum is available or how much it would sell for. There’s no doubt that either company would be willing to shell out however much is necessary to claim ownership.