While white space wireless broadband has not set the world alight with its speeds, its ability to co-exist in the gaps between the various digital TV channels may help to provide another way to deliver ubiquotous broadband across the UK.
The Sunday Telegraph covered moves by Google and Microsoft to possibly launch a commercial service in an attempt to offer something that Apple do not, which would be an free wireless broadband service for use with the various mobile handsets.
One hurdle coming the way of whitespace services is the release of the 800 MHz band for 4G, and then a subsequent release of the 700MHz band too. This later change will also impact on Freeview, requiring a major channel shuffle in addition to the interference mitigation that the 800 MHz band would generate.
The 700MHz band that the EU is pushing for, will also make it easier for handsets to roam and use 4G across the whole of Europe, and will be a direct competitor to whitespace as the lower frequency should in theory mean that even with the current number of 3G cell towers that 4G will offer better coverage. In terms of raw speed 4G currently beats white space
Even if Google and Microsoft were to be granted access to white space by Ofcom at a low cost, the cost of installing masts across the UK and purchasing backhaul bandwidth would mean a free service might be a wish too far. We would expect the tease of 250MB free usage per month, and then paying per GB, the other option is one that has been tried before in the UK and that is funding the service from advertising based revenue, most services that try this run for a while and subquently quietly sink without a trace.