Keynote Speech

White space networking & the commoditization of pervasive Internet access

Speaker: Victor Bahl (Microsoft)


We began our journey with the goal of commoditizing pervasive connectivity for the masses. We gravitated towards providing neighborhood connectivity in developing and rural regions. Businesses saw an opportunity and local government began to value blanket city-wide coverage. But success was not inevitable. Deployments failed and critics questioned the promises. Perhaps the technology was not ready for prime time So we began "fixing" the technology, part of which included fixing governmental policies around spectrum allocation. Some listened and new spectrum for license-free operation were opened up.

In this talk, I will discuss the evolution of our thinking on how to achieve open pervasive internet connectivity. I will highlight promising new research directions that are full of interesting challenges. I will discuss solutions that researchers are developing and show the trajectory. My objective is to present what I believe is the new frontier for wireless networking research that is at the intersection of white spaces networking, cognitive systems, and mesh networking. I will challenge the audience into taking on new problems, which when solved will eventually lead us to success in our original goal of commoditizing pervasive connectivity for the masses and enabling exciting new applications in the process.


Victor Bahl is a Principal Researcher and founding Manager of the Networking Research Group in Microsoft Research Redmond. He is responsible for directing research activities that push the state-of-art in the networking of devices and systems. He and his group build proof-of-concept systems, engage with academia, publish papers in prestigious conferences and journals, publish software for the research community, and work with product groups to influence Microsoft's products. His personal research interests span a variety of topics in wireless systems design, mobile networking, and network management. He has built and deployed several seminal and highly cited networked systems, with a total of over 6000 citations; he has authored over 80 papers and over 110 patent applications, 60 of which have issued; he has delivered close to two dozen keynote & plenary talks; he is the founder and past Chairperson of ACM SIGMOBILE; the founder and past Editor-in-Chief of ACM Mobile Computing and Communications Review, and the founder and steering committee chair of the Mobile Systems Conference; He has served as the General Chair of several IEEE and ACM conferences including SIGCOMM and MobiCom, and is serving on the steering committees of seven IEEE & ACM conferences & workshop; he has served on the board of over half-a-dozen journals; on several NSF and NRC panels, and on over six dozen program committees. Dr. Bahl received Digital's Doctoral Engineering Fellowship Award in 1995 and SIGMOBILE's Distinguished Service Award in 2001. In 2004, Microsoft nominated him for the innovator of the year award. He became an ACM Fellow in 2003 and an IEEE Fellow in 2008. More on him at