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Microsoft and Google eye unused UK spectrum

Microsoft and Google are in discussions with the UK government about unused sections of airwaves known as white space

Microsoft and Google are in discussions with the UK government and regulatory officials about unused sections of airwaves known as white space.

These discussions have led to speculation that the two companies are looking to set up a free Wi-Fi service in the UK for users of their mobile handsets, according to the Telegraph.

According to government sources, Microsoft and Google are looking at the unused spectrum as a way to get closer to customers and differentiate themselves from rival Apple.

White spaces are the gaps or buffers between airwaves used for television, radio and mobile services to prevent broadcasting and mobile signals from interfering with each other.

Because airwave spectrum is a limited resource, telecoms regulator Ofcom wants to put these white spaces to use for broadband services, particularly for rural areas.

But the interest shown by Google and Microsoft has led to speculation by telecoms analysts that companies will attempt to gain control of the free spectrum to set up free Wi-Fi access for their mobile handsets.

Neither Microsoft nor Google have made any public comments about bidding for the UK's unused wireless spectrum.

However, earlier this year, Microsoft reported the successful 10-month white space trial in Cambridge and its surrounding areas. According to US reports Microsoft was part of a consortium of 17 companies, not including Google, that took part in the trial.

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