MarketWatch reports on forthcoming tests of wireless device from Microsoft that will use "white spaces," unlicensed part of the U.S. wireless spectrum, to offer free access to the Web, bypassing the tollroads networks of telco and cable providers. Microsoft has some important allies--Google, HP, Dell and Intel--on this initiative, and savvy opponents who know how to lobby in Washington D.C.
It all hinges on how well the prototype performs in tests by the Federal Communications Commission. Microsoft and allies must prove that such devices, which can connect users via , won't interfere with airwaves that major license holders acquired for large sums. While the FCC is obligated to protect license holders from such interference, several "white spaces" bills introduced in Congress have placed added pressure on the commission to wrap up the tests in a hurry. But along the way, a host of big guns in the telecom industry hope Microsoft and its white-space cohorts will fail.