white space database honor system is just not working out. The self-registration
system designed to keep unlicensed devices from interfering with licensed TV
spectrum operations has “fatal flaws,” according to the National Association of
Broadcasters. The NAB is petitioning the Federal Communications Commission to
shut down the databases—or at least certify the entries—and clean them up.
“You can enter a location in Idaho and use the device in New York,” said Rick
Kaplan, NAB’s executive vice president and general counsel.
Locational data is the linchpin of preventing interference because it’s used to
correlate open TV frequencies in a given area. The image above, from Google’s spectrum search tool
, shows no open frequencies in most of Los Angeles and California’s Coachella Valley. Users in those areas could register devices in another location and operate them whever they wish. Such erroneous data can render
untraceable interference, something the NAB says is preventable.
“Geolocation,” Kaplan said. “You put that in the device, you solve the location
When the FCC proposed opening the TV band to unlicensed devices in 2009, broadcasters lobbied
it to require geolocation and spectrum-sensing technology in the devices. The commission
declined, opting instead for “professional installation.”
“The FCC required ‘professional installation,’ but didn’t define it,” Kaplan
said. “You can become a professional installer by installing it.”
Whereas now, registrants manually enter geographic coordinates into the
database, the process could be automated and verified through geolocation
technology. The NAB’s petition said it would add “no more than a few dollars”
to the cost of current white space devices, which “cost well in excess of
Kaplan said the second major flaw in the database system is that “liability
rests with the consumer… if you’re a database administrator, you should be
liable for patently false information in your database.”
The NAB’s Bruce Franca conducted multiple analysis of the database system over
the last year.
“At various points, more than one-third of fixed TV band devices in the
database contained patently inaccurate location information, including multiple
devices registered in the middle of empty fields, or to a single family home,
and some even registered in foreign countries,” the NAB petition said.
The misinformation is “threatening to render the entire TV white space
spectrum-sharing construct an unworkable morass,” it said.
The FCC farmed out the management of the white space database and has approved
of four administrators so far: Telcordia
of Piscataway, N.J.; Spectrum
of Lake Mary, Fla.; and Key
of McLean, Va., and Google
based in Mountain View, Calif. Each has a different number of registered devices,
NAB executives said.
The database, as accessed through Google’s
, shows 551 fixed TV-band white space devices registered by fewer than
100 parties. (See a summarized list here.
) Spectrum Bridge has the most devices registered, with 471.
Google has 69; Telcordia shows 11. None show up for Key Bridge. Registering
parties comprise regional
telecoms, universities, municipalities, libraries, device makers and a few mysteries.
Among telecoms, Carlson Wireless in Arcata, Calif., for example, has been
actively developing in white spaces for some time. It’s projects include a
white space broadband
in California’s Gold Country, white-fi
with WRAL-TV in Raleigh, N.C., and a library white-fi
with Google. Carlson has 11 device listed; or 12 if the standalone
entry from Carlson’s white space expert Shamus Jennings
is legit. It includes no address or contact information.
The same is true of four entries from a “lin sun” [sic]. Another 53 entries
list lin sun at 25 E. Trimble Rd. in San Jose, Calif. The address appears to be
the location of Public
, maker of small cell technology with job openings
San Jose and San Juan, Puerto Rico. No “lin sun” is listed among the principals
One John Q. Public has registered four devices, all of them with Telcordia. Jane
Doe of None, None, has one device registered with Telcordia.
During an NAB conference call with reporters, one had obtained a statement from
the FCC saying that the agency was aware of the problem and working to correct it.
Kaplan said the NAB notified the commission of the problem last August, and
that some of the erroneous information was corrected, but nothing’s been done
to stop the continued entry of false data.
“False information in the
database greatly increases the likelihood of harmful interference to licensed
users, including over-the-air television, wireless microphones, wireless
handsets and wireless medical telemetry service,” the NAB said.
“When left to their own devices, many TV band device users routinely enter
false location information, either through error or mischief,” the petition
said. “To compound the problem, because many users also enter false contact
information, the FCC and licensees do not even know whom to contact to resolve
any problems… The FCC must revise its rules to solidify a spectrum-sharing
framework that functions for all operators in the TV bands—and that may serve
as a model for sharing in other spectrum bands in the future.”
October 6, 2014
Proposes New Rules for White Space Devices
rules will also allow wireless microphone and white space device operations in
the 600 MHz “duplex gap” and guard bands adjacent to 600 MHz spectrum licensed
for wireless operations after completion of the incentive auction.
March 4, 2013
Space Databases Go Live Nationwide
white-space databases to be used by unlicensed devices to find open TV
frequencies can now operate nationwide. The authorization means that new,
consumer unlicensed devices can now be introduced to the public.
February 27, 2013:
Opens Google White-Space Database for Public Trial
The trial is a public test run of the system to be used by unlicensed devices
to identify unoccupied TV channels in the television broadcast frequency band.
All those affected are encouraged to weigh in on the trial.
January 23, 2013:
Group Unveils Regional TV White Space Prototype
A trio of Tokyo-based technology developers have created a prototype
white-space device based on the IEEE 802.22 Wireless Regional Area Network standard.
December 6, 2012:
Space Databases Go Live Next Month
The mic system was beta launched in September by the FCC’s Office of
Engineering and Technology on the Eastern Seaboard.