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Policy and Regulation

Microsoft is committed to helping governments and regulators understand and adapt to the rapidly changing spectrum environment.

Core Principles

Microsoft is committed to helping governments and regulators understand and adapt to the rapidly changing spectrum environment. We have developed 6 core principles that we hope regulators will adhere to:
  • We support ongoing efforts to gain a better understanding of spectrum use around the globe.
  • We support proposals to make the unused TV band spectrum available for license-exempt (unlicensed) access on a globally-harmonized basis, facilitated by the use of geolocation databases and other interference protection mechanisms.
  • We support enabling multiple competing database providers to encourage more intensive innovation in dynamic spectrum access and the businesses it can enable.
  • We support efforts to increase the availability of spectrum for license-exempt (unlicensed) use across a variety of frequencies – above and below 1 GHz.
  • We support regulations making other underused spectrum available for dynamic sharing in a variety of licensed, license-exempt (unlicensed), and lightly-licensed spectrum bands.
  • In the long run, we support efforts to make spectrum sharing the default mode of use, with technical rules that address legitimate interference concerns.

Our Commitment

Across all the work we do, one of our most important goals is to help governments identify the changes that need to be made to support the next generations of spectrum management and to help them implement the rules, regulations and policies that could support dynamic spectrum practices.

The United States and Finland are thus far the only countries to allow unlicensed access to the TV white spaces. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently began certifying white space databases and devices, and the first small-scale commercial networks are being deployed in North Carolina and Virginia.

Microsoft Research has developed prototype databases for demos, trials, and pilots conducted in the Brazil, Kenya, the Philippines, Switzerland, Singapore, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Uruguay.

Looking Ahead

The United Kingdom, Canada, and Singapore have commenced consultations and announced plans to develop white space regulations. Japan and Korea have conducted large-scale trials.

Leveraging the transition from analog to digital television broadcasts, several other countries will likely develop regulations in the 2014-2015 timeframe. Numerous countries are also looking at white spaces for addressing digital divide challenges – getting affordable broadband access to the unserved billions.

More Than TV Band

The White space opportunity is more than just about the TV bands. Indeed, regulators are already looking at making other spectrum bands available for opportunistic sharing. For example, the European Commission's Radio Spectrum Policy group has issued positive statements recently about enabling expanded spectrum sharing opportunities.

Likewise, the US President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) issued a report stating that traditional clearing and reallocation of spectrum for exclusive use licensing is unsustainable and that 1,000 MHz of federal spectrum should be identified in which to "create the first shared use spectrum super highways."

The US FCC is looking at repacking the TV broadcast bands to make more spectrum available for licensing, and has requested comment on making a substantial amount of spectrum available for unlicensed uses, including a significant portion that would be made available on a uniform nationwide basis for the first time. The US FCC is also looking at white spaces access in other bands such as 3.55 to 3.65 GHz and potentially some other bands.