Microsoft and a large group of companies in the U.K. are launching a new trial of wireless Internet transmissions on unused “white spaces” television spectrum in Cambridge, England — seeking to prove, among other things, that the technology can work without conflicting with traditional television broadcasts.

The  technology is often called “WiFi on Steroids” because of the ability of the TV spectrum to provide Internet access over much larger distances than traditional WiFi — a potential range of multiple miles. Microsoft has been testing the technology on its Redmond campus, including techniques for avoiding interference with TV broadcasts and wireless microphones.

“The results of the trial could have profound and positive effects on the technology world and society for years to come,” says Dan Reed, a Microsoft corporate vice president for technology strategy, in a post this morning.

Microsoft says its interest is fueled by the potential for applications, and even new businesses, as a result of the supercharged and relatively low-cost form of wireless access. In the U.S., the FCC last fall agreed to allow the use of white spaces for Internet transmissions. Google and other large technology companies are also advocates of the white spaces Internet technology.

Television broadcasters have historically been wary of the use of the spectrum for Internet transmissions. That makes some of the 0ther companies participating in the Cambridge trial notable — the BBC, BSkyB, BT, Cambridge Consultants, Neul, Nokia, Samsung, Spectrum Bridge Inc. and TTP.

Microsoft also credits U.K. broadcast regulator Ofcom for granting a license for the tests.

Image via Microsoft Research depicting unused TV spectrum available for WiFi transmissions.

Like what you're reading? Subscribe to GeekWire's free newsletters to catch every headline


  • KidPhat

    What do the carriers have to say about this?

    • Blah

      who cares! Bunch of over-priced data capping bastards.

  • Anonymous

    How come the UK gets all the cool stuff first?

  • Guest

    I like this. I don’t even own a television so I am very interested in using all that needless spectrum for more technologically adept tasks. Who needs the next series of Pop Idol when you can have a whole cloud of billions of songs at your fingertips?

Job Listings on GeekWork