FCC To Commence Second White Space Database Trial Wednesday
December 5, 2011
the uncertain future of the availability of TV spectrum, another test is queued
up for further filling it with unlicensed transmissions. Telcordia Technologies
has been approved for a white space database trial. The test marks the second
one conducted by the
Communications Commission to assess the efficacy of databases for protecting TV
signals from interference by unlicensed devices. The 45-day trial commences Wednesday.
Telcordia’s test follows one for Spectrum Bridge of Lake Mary, Fla., which
concluded Nov. 2. The results were opened to comment, with replies due today.
The trials are part of the FCC’s white spaces proceeding, which started before
the Obama Administration proposed to reallocate 40 percent of the TV spectrum
for broadband. A related bill moving through the House provides no particular
protections for white spaces in a reduced TV band.
White spaces, once known as “taboo channels,” were traditionally left open to
prevent interference between analog TV signals. Digital signals are considered
less vulnerable, thus the FCC is opening taboo channels for use by a new breed
of unlicensed personal electronics devices.
The databases are supposed to track and log all licensed operations in the
spectrum dedicated to television, including full- and low-power TV stations,
translators, broadcaster auxiliary services, cable headends, private
land-mobile radio, offshore radio telephone, certain radio astronomy and wireless
microphone sites. Unlicensed devices—which are not yet commercially
available—will have to ping a database to find open frequencies.
FCC rules “require that unlicensed TV band devices contact an authorized
database system to obtain a list of channels that are available for their
operation…. Such devices are required to provide their geographic location, by
means of a secure Internet connection, to a TV band database system authorized
by the commission. The database will then return a list of the channels
available for operation by the device for its reported location.”
The FCC said that parties may participate in the trial by going to an online test facility
set up by Telcordia and activated on Wednesday at 12:01 a.m. EST.
The commission encourages participants to test Telecordia’s channel
availability calculator and its receive site registration utilities for cable
headends, satellite, BAS, fixed unlicensed devices and wireless mics. Inaccuracies
and errors are to be reported to Telcordia on the trial website. The trial will
conclude Jan. 20 unless the FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology decides
to extend it. Once the trial is complete, Telcordia will compile a report for
Telcordia was one of nine companies conditionally approved by the FCC in
January to provide white-space database management services, and the second to
have its technology go to trial. A tenth—Microsoft—applied late and won
approval in July.
Telecordia Technologies of Piscataway, N.J., specializes in telecommunications
software and support. It reported sales of $739 million for 2010 and was purchased
by Stockholm, Sweden cellphone service provider, Ericsson, last June for $1.2
billion cash. The deal is expected to close this quarter.
The other companies conditionally approved as white space database
administrators include Mountain View, Calif., search giant Google, Comsearch of
Ashburn, Va.; Neustar of Sterling Va.; Key Bridge Global of McLean, Va.; KB
Enterprises of Washington, D.C.; Frequency Finder of Toccoa, Ga.; and WSdB LLC,
which listed no headquarters. The company’s listed website also appears
The FCC first put out its call for database managers in November 2009. It
revealed the nine applicants a year later and granted them conditional approval
in January because final rules were issued after the proposals were submitted. The
designees were expected to file supplemental information on their original
proposals, but the FCC said each had sufficient “technical expertise” for the
task, as well as viable five-year business plans. The companies will be allowed
to charge fees for “fixed TVBDs and temporary broadcast auxiliary fixed links.
~ Deborah D. McAdams
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