Microsoft at the 2nd EU Innovation Convention

By Fabien Petitcolas, Director for Innovation, Europe

Started in 2011 by José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, and Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation, and Science, the 1st Innovation Convention was an essential part of the Innovation Union Flaghsip Initiative of the European Commission, and was also one of Europe’s premier innovation events. It provides a platform to debate and inform policies that facilitate innovation in Europe.


If you regularly follow our European website you may recall that we had organised a virtual discussion between our former Chief Research and Strategy Officer and the Commissioner for Research and Innovation, using the Avatar Kinect technology.

The 2nd Innovation Convention will take place on 10-11 March and we’ll be present again. This year we are honoured to have been invited to present the outcome of some research which started over a decade ago in one of our research laboratories: a novel application of the use of air waves to deliver broadband connectivity in rural areas, and in particular rural Africa. The technology not only addresses the issue of limited network bandwidth in areas where existing wireless communication are unlikely to adapt to the projected demand, but also allows, due the frequency band used, wider geographical coverage without the need for heavy infrastructure investments.

We achieve this through license-exempt use of ‘white spaces’. These are the unused portions of spectrum in the TV bands including some of the channels freed up by the transition from analogue to digital TV broadcasting. We have already initiated several pilot projects in the UK and the USA. But the applications are not restricted to regions with high concentration of wireless broadband devices. In fact, as we aim to show at the Innovation Convention, white spaces can be used to deliver high speed internet connectivity at a cheap cost in countries with little or no internet connectivity and support economic development.

We will do Skype calls with our partners in Kenya who are using this technology during some of the breaks of the Convention:

  • Monday 10 March 12:45-14:00, 16:30-17:00, 19:30-21:00
  • Tuesday 11 March 10:45-11:15

We will also demonstrate the Microsoft Spectrum Observatory, a visual and interactive software application that provides an intuitive presentation of the usage of the wireless spectrum.


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