'White Spaces' Worth $100 Billion?

A recently released report, commissioned by Microsoft, argues that the newly available "white spaces" analog TV spectrum could be worth as much as $100 billion over the next several years. According to a discussion of the report in MarketWatch:

The study, by consultant Richard Thanki of Perspective Associates, suggests that by augmenting current unlicensed wireless networks, such as Wi-Fi hot spots, the white spaces could generate between $3.9 billion and $7.3 billion in value annually over 15 years. That would be the result of increased use of consumer electronics and other factors, according to the study.

If you don't remember, the US Federal Communications Commission approved a plan to allow unlicensed broadcast TV spectrum to be used by companies to create wireless broadband services that amount to “WiFi on steroids” according to Google co-founder Larry Page

The idea is to create wireless broadband using this spectrum to ensure continuous and near-universal coverage for internet-connected devices (fixed and mobile). Unlike conventional radio/wireless spectrum, the “unlicensed” part of this means that no one has to pay anything to the FCC to use it. That stands in contrast to the nearly $20 billion paid as part of the recent 700MHz spectrum auction last year (dominated by AT&T and Verizon).

Google envisions white spaces as a way to reach rural customers with broadband speeds without laying down the infrastructure of urban networks. But the implications are much broader in my mind. I don't have any knowledge of the technical limitations or the full reach of the spectrum, though I believe it's nationwide in the US. But here's what I envision: