White Space, the new Wireless Frontier?

A half-dozen tech companies are hoping a prototype of a device will help solve the serious lack of competition in the wireless access space. Microsoft, Google, Dell, HP, Philips and Intel are planning on delivering a device to the FCC today, according to the Washington Post, that will utilize the unused spectrum between TV channels to deliver broadband.

According to our sources, Microsoft’s engineers volunteered to build a prototype device that is basically a dynamic radio that selects channels based upon perceived presence of other signals. The group is trying to show that such “white space” devices won’t interfere with spectrum that is already in use by TV broadcasters.

If they are successful, it could be an important move to increase competition in the wireless space, potentially driving down prices for consumers and opening up greater access to more content providers. Last week Google,Yahoo eBay, Intel, EchoStar and DirecTV showed their own broadband access ambitions by teaming up to lobby the FCC about how the 700 MHz wireless spectrum auction is held.

OK, so Microsoft’s recent consumer devices haven’t always been so nice, but any competition for the telco-cableco duopoly sounds good to us. The Washington Post says:

Warily watching from the sidelines are the major telephone and cable companies that compete to bring high-speed Internet into millions of businesses and homes.

Market Watch puts it as:

Analysts say that if the white-space group succeeds, consumers could see a flood of new devices enabling them to bypass the networks of incumbent service providers like AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. to get online.

Well, let’s not get too gleeful just yet. There are a lot of broadband options that have been all hyped and have yet to see major rollouts like broadband over powerlines. But, hey, we can still dream right?