UK regulator Ofcom has named the firms participating in Europe’s first key pilot of “white space” technology.
The UK will be one of the first countries in the world to test the technology, which Ofcom said aims to boost the next wave of wireless innovation.
White spaces exist in between frequency bands that are traditionally set aside and used by broadcasting companies.
Among the participants, BT and technology specialist Neul will work with the UK government’s Department for Transport.
The firms intend to use the white space technology to improve road safety and delivery of informatio to drivers.
Microsoft will test how white spaces can provide people with access to free Wi-Fi in Glasgow, which has the lowest level of broadband take-up of all UK cities.
The US company will also collaborate with the University of Strathclyde’s Centre for White Space Communications. Microsoft plans use white spaces to link a network of sensors around Glasgow to create a “smart city”.
ISP provider Click4internet, meanwhile, will collaborate with technology partners KTS & SineCom to run a test for rural broadband in remote areas.
Radio waves used by white space technology travel larger distance and penetrate easily through solid objects as compared to the regular Bluetooth and Wi-Fi technology.
This is because white space uses lower frequencies that are normally reserved and used by broadcasting companies.
A number of companies, including Google, Nominet, LS telcom, iconectiv, Key Bridge, Fairspectrum and Spectrum Bridge have expressed interest in testing intelligent databases that ensure white spaces can be used without causing harmful interference to other devices.
Ed Richards, Ofcom’s Chief Executive, said: “The upcoming white space pilot is a very exciting development, which has attracted an impressive line-up of participants, ranging from global tech giants to innovative UK start-ups.”
The amount of white space available in the UK varies by location, the power level of devices and the point in the day at which they access spectrum.
“Access to spectrum is fundamental to the future success of the UK’s digital economy, providing the infrastructure that underpins all wireless communications,” Richards added.
According to Ofcom, firms such as broadcasters, programmme makers and event organisers will present “significant challenges for spectrum management over the next 10 years.”
Unlike some other parts of the radio spectrum, white spaces will be available to use on a licence-exempt basis, potentially allowing for fast take-up and innovation by manufacturers.
The forthcoming trials will investigate the potential for white spaces to help meet the growing demands being placed on the UK’s wireless infrastructure.