Microsoft to trial white space broadband in Cambridge

Monday, June 27th 2011
The tech giant is eager for nations across Europe to adopt the technology.
Microsoft to trial white space broadband in Cambridge
A Microsoft-led consortium has announced plans to trial 'white space' wireless broadband technology in Cambridge.

The group of companies, which also includes the BBC, BT and Sky, will look into how gaps in the digital TV spectrum between existing television channels can be used to meet the growing demand for mobile data usage, reports the Financial Times.

Microsoft has already built a white space-based wireless network at its headquarters in the US and is keen to bring the service to a number of European countries.

National telecoms regulators will be watching the trial closely and the Bill Gates-owned tech firm is keen for other nations to open up white space frequency to improve existing broadband infrastructure.

The Cambridge project is expected to get underway on Wednesday (June 29th 2011) with the aim of demonstrating that using the spectrum does not interfere with digital TV signals.

Dan Reed, an executive at Microsoft responsible for its technology strategy, pointed out that spectrum is a "finite resource", meaning all available airwaves must be utilised "efficiently and wisely".

"The TV white spaces offer tremendous potential to extend the benefits of wireless connectivity to many more people, in more locations, through the creation of super Wi-Fi networks," he explained.

It is thought that Microsoft has also spoken to regulators in Japan and Singapore with a view to taking advantage of the white space spectrum in the Asian nations.

BT appears keen to see the technology take off, as the telecoms giant is also set to launch a live trial of the wireless broadband service on the Isle of Bute next month.

In partnership with the likes of BBC Research and Development, the University of Strathclyde and Steepest Ascent, BT will roll out connections to approximately a dozen properties on the island, which is located off the west coast of Scotland.

"Our hope is that this technology may provide an effective solution for 'not spots' and 'slow spots'," said Liv Garfield, the chief executive of BT Openreach.

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