Skip to main content

Microsoft and Google in talks with UK government over unused wireless spectrum

A report in the Sunday Telegraph over the weekend claimed that US tech giants Google and Microsoft have made inquiries about the availability of unused sections of the UK wireless spectrum.

The reasons behind the duo's interest remains unknown, though it is speculated that both companies have plans to build free Wi-Fi access into handsets affiliated with their brand - the Nokia Lumia 920, HTC 8X, and Samsung Ativ currently headline the new Windows Phone 8 handset line up, while Google and LG recently unveiled the Nexus 4.

The article credits “senior government sources” with the information about plans to snatch up the network "white space." White spaces are the gaps in connectivity spectrums that lie between the airwaves dedicated to television, mobile and radio transmissions - it is also intended to serve as a buffer between these signals, preventing them from impeding each other.

"They clearly see it as very, very important. They have shown extreme interest in this as a way of getting closer to customers and offering something different to Apple," said a government source to the Telegraph.

Neither company has commented on the purported negotiations, however Microsoft's previous involvement in a ten month long white space trial does add some credence to the rumours. The tests where held in Cambridge and involved seventeen companies. Google was not part of these experiments.

Ofcom is also reported to be interested in these network scraps, and is lobbying the Government to give it authority over white space rollout.

Some commentator have proffered that white spaces may present a possible solution to the rural broadband conundrum, so it will be interesting to see who the UK government and it regulatory bodies side with when the time comes to divvy up the unused spectrum.