Microsoft and BT are to begin trials of white space technology in an attempt to help alleviate the growing pressure on spectrum in the UK.
White space technology refers to the gaps between spectrum bands that often sit unused. Freeing them up for use is considered key to help meet demand for mobile data from ever-growing tablet and smartphone users.
Ofcom announced the trials at an event in London attended by V3 on Wednesday, explaining that Microsoft's trial would focus on using white space spectrum to provide a WiFi network in Glasgow.
Meanwhile BT will work with Neul to run a test of white space services on behalf of the Department for Transport (DfT) for traffic management technology. This will take place along the A14 between Felixstowe and Cambridge.
A third trial will see a firm called Click4Internet look to use white space to provide internet access in the Hampshire region including the New Forest and the Isle of Wight. The tests are all due to begin before the end of 2013.
To find out which spectrums in the area are free to use, white space-enabled devices would need to connect to a database. Google has expressed interest in helping to maintain such a database, as has US firm Spectrum Bridge, which has experience of managing such databases in the US.
Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards said the trials were an important step forward in ensuring UK spectrum demands are met. "As demand for spectrum grows we have to have a long-term objective about spectrum sharing," he said.
Ofcom also announced the launch of a new spectrum consultation on its plans to free up more spectrum. This includes frequency currently held by the Ministry of Defence and possible reusing the 700MHz currently used for TV signals. This consultation is open for responses until 11 December.
Ofcom has been planning for white space for some time, but these trials will be the first major tests that have been conducted to see how it could provide real-world benefits.
Some smaller, localised tests have already taken place, with a consortium of firms, such as Samsung, Nokia and Microsoft, testing the services between the 400-800MHz bands last year.
Cotton seedling freezes to death as Chang'e-4 shuts down for the Moon's 14-day lunar night
Fortnite easily out-earns PUBG, Assassin's Creed Odyssey and Red Dead Redemption 2 in 2018
Meteor showers as a service will be visible for about 100 kilometres in all directions
Saturn's rings only formed in the past 100 million years, suggests analysis of Cassini space probe data
New findings contradict conventional belief that Saturn's rings were formed along with the planet about 4.5 billion years ago