Microsoft and Whitespace Wi-Fi

Now with FCC formally backing proposals to free up the white spaces which are nothing but currently unused frequencies in between TV channels, Microsoft should be able to leverage its research on “White-Fi” transmitters and be a leader in this space.

Economist on Whitespace Wi-Fi

Microsoft, an active proponent of white-space wireless, is using just two of its experimental “White-Fi” transmitters to blanket the company’s entire 200-hectare campus at Redmond, Washington, in place of the thousands of Wi-Fi routers that would otherwise have been needed. No wonder white-space is being referred to as “Wi-Fi on steroids”.

Enthusiasts talk about white-space devices offering a “third pipe” for access to the internet, to rival cable and telephone broadband. Others see white-space as providing an alternative to mobile telephony. When wireless hotspots cover entire neighborhoods rather than mere coffee shops, who needs a mobile-phone contract? A smart phone running Skype or something similar would be essentially free of usage charges and unfettered by all the restrictions that carriers impose. 

Such thoughts have doubtless crossed many a mind at Google. Not having to put up with carrier-required compromises that hobble functions and features, owners of Android smart phones would be free to use the full power of their devices to surf the web for information, social networking and entertainment—and, in so doing, rake in billions more advertising dollars for Google. That, after all, was why the search company developed its free Android operating system in the first place. It is not impossible to envisage Google—in partnership with, say, Spectrum Bridge, a company in Florida that has installed several demonstration systems which use white-space technology to blanket whole communities—emerging as a mobile operator in its own right one day.

If you want to know what White Space Wi-Fi is, go through the following links.

White Spaces Worth a Toast, But Not With Champagne

The term “white spaces" refers to spectrum allocated to any type of radio applications that aren't fully used in specific areas of the country. On September 23, 2010, the FCC issued a Second Memorandum Opinion and Order (MO&O) allowing spectrum assigned to broadcast television stations -- but not used -- to be available for other types of communications. Most importantly, this spectrum will be free and unlicensed, just as WiFi is.

All types of applications -- wireless Internet access, smart grid monitoring, telecommunications backhaul -- could be available for white spaces, just as they are for WiFi.

Microsoft Research - Networking Over White Spaces (KNOWS)

Technology Review - Wi-Fi via White Spaces