Late last year, the FCC approved a controversial plan to allow unused portions of TV airwaves called “White Spaces” for an wireless broadband services. Many internet giants like Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) and Google (NSDQ: GOOG) have supported the move because it provides additional channels to distribute content. In this case, the airwaves would not be owned by a particular company and therefore, in theory, would be more open.
So, how much are those liberties worth? A study commissioned by Microsoft estimates that the white spaces could be worth more than $100 billion over the next 15 years, Marketwatch reports. The study was conducted by Richard Thanki of Perspective Associates, who suggests that white spaces could fill the gaps between Wi-Fi hotspots. In that scenario, they could generate between $3.9 billion and $7.3 billion in value each year over 15 years (although it’s unclear how that’s being calculated). Still, getting compatible chips into consumer electronics won’t be cheap. The study said initially the chips will cost $10 more than existing technologies in 2012, but that should decline at a rate of about 30 percent a year.