Microsoft-backed study values white spaces at more than $100 billion

A Microsoft-commissioned study found that white spaces spectrum could be worth more than $100 billion over the next 15 years.

The study, conducted by consultant Richard Thanki of Perspective Associates, showed that use of the white spaces--the unused slivers of spectrum in the 700 MHz band between licensed blocks--could generate between $3.9 billion and $7.3 billion annually over 15 years.

Microsoft, along with Google, Dell, Motorola and other companies, lobbied the FCC heavily to allow unlicensed use of the spectrum. Last November, the FCC voted to approve the use of both unlicensed fixed band devices and portable personal devices that have both geolocation capabilities and the ability to access an FCC database of TV signals and locations of things such as stadiums, churches and entertainment venues where wireless microphones were being used and scan for possible interference issues. Currently, Google and several other companies are working with the FCC to develop the technical specifications for such a database.

In the study, Thanki reiterates several points that white space backers have made in the past, including the idea that WiFi could be enhanced with white space spectrum and that the spectrum could be used to help bring Internet to remote rural areas.

The FCC is currently looking at the use of unlicensed spectrum as part of its plan to develop a national broadband plan, and Microsoft clearly hopes that it is a component of the final plan. "Our nation's policymakers should encourage further innovation by embracing unlicensed spectrum as a key pillar of America's communications framework," Microsoft vice president for technology policy and strategy Anoop Gupta wrote on a company blog.    

For more:
- see this MarketWatch article
- see the report

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