In a coming together of bitter rivals, leading TV firms, including The BBC and Sky, are said to be among the consortium members to investigate how used TV spectrum can be utilised for commercial wireless services.

According to reports in the Financial Times, BBC, BSkyB, BT, and Microsoft are currently investigating whether spectrum not needed for transmitting terrestrial television could be used for new wireless broadband networks. The consortium members will begin a technology trial with the intention of stabling whether such spectrum could support services used by the burgeoning legions of smartphone and tablet users which could be hugely lucrative to currently cash-strapped TV companies.

One of the key objectives is to ensure that TV transmissions are not damaged by using so called white space spectrum for mobile broadband services that could be offered.

The FT reports that Microsoft in particular has already built an experimental mobile broadband network at its US headquarters using spectrum in the frequency range reserved for digital TV transmissions. It quotes Dan Reed, a Microsoft executive responsible for its technology strategy, as saying: “Spectrum is a finite natural resource. We can’t make more and we must use it efficiently and wisely. The TV white spaces offer tremendous potential to extend the benefits of wireless connectivity to many more people, in more locations, through the creation of super Wi-Fi networks.”