Microsoft pushes for TV white space, mixing policy and philanthropy

Mawingu schoolWhite space spectrum and technology can sometimes seem ho-hum, but it has a major backer in Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT). The software giant has embarked on a global strategy to develop and promote TV white space technology as well as spread the news about the benefits of liberalized spectrum policies in conjunction with the use of dynamic spectrum-sharing technologies. Microsoft has involved itself in lots of initiatives to bring Internet connectivity to the unconnected and underserved, and has coordinated or participated in TV white space (TVWS) spectrum trials in places as diverse as Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania and the United Kingdom. In all of these trials, Microsoft and its collaborators are basically using TVWS spectrum--vacant frequencies that sit between TV broadcast channels--to backhaul Wi-Fi hotspots, connecting the TVWS base station to a Wi-Fi access point which then links to end-user devices. Getting more people online potentially benefits the company because it grows the market for Microsoft products such as software, online services, entertainment and devices. For more on Microsoft's white space efforts, check out this FierceWirelessTech special report.