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Google and Microsoft join ambitious UK white space trial

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British telecommunications regulator Ofcom has revealed that 20 organizations will participate in a major trial of UK white space over the next six months. White space is simply unused spectrum that separates over-the-air TV stations. Due to its low frequency, signals that use white space can travel further than Wi-Fi and other radio signals. Microsoft, Google, and other organizations are planning to test mobile broadband and sensors to monitor cities and traffic using the spectrum. Microsoft, a company that has expressed interest in UK white space previously, will test white spaces in Glasgow to provide free Wi-Fi and link together a network of sensors.

Google will test intelligent databases designed to ensure the white space use doesn't interfere with other devices, a key concern for wireless microphone equipment that utilizes the frequency gaps at certain times. BT, a UK ISP and telecommunications giant, is also involved in the white space testing. Working alongside Neul, a networking firm that created the first city-wide white space network, the pair will test the transmission of traffic congestion data using white spaces. The pilot has attracted UK startups and the interest of Google and Microsoft mainly because of the potential for white space use. If the trials are successful then a future implementation could bring wireless broadband to rural areas where it's difficult to access the internet in the UK.