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Telcordia Gets Cleared to Manage White Spaces

WASHINGTON: Telecordia now can manage white spaces in local areas. The Piscataway, N.J. company was granted preliminary approval by the Federal Communications Commission to track unoccupied frequencies in the broadcast TV spectrum, and make those frequencies available to unlicensed devices via a database. Telcordia is limited to providing service in localized areas until FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology “completes and activates its system for approving registrations to protect wireless microphone use at large event/performance venues.”

The FCC’s own registration system for wireless mic-heavy venues is still under development and expected to be operational in the “near future,” the commission said. 

“Until this system is operational and affected parties have an opportunity to register their venues to obtain protection, OET cannot provide a general authorization to Telcordia or any other TV bands database administrator to provide service from its database system to TV white space devices,” the commission said in its public notice. “However, OET states that it will consider favorably a request from Telcordia to provide immediate service from its database system in a limited geographic area.”

Any wireless-mic venues in the area would coordinate directly with Telcordia until the FCC’s registration system is up and running. Most of the information necessary to build a database is available through the FCC, except for wireless mic venues, cable headend locations, and temporary BAS sites. Under FCC rules, Telcordia must provide a way for parties involved with those operations to register in its database.

Those registering can ask the FCC for protection of wireless mic venues. These requests will then be subject to public comment, which the commission will review before granting approval. The FCC said all such approvals would be conveyed to other database administrators—in this case, Spectrum Bridge.

Telcordia, acquired by Ericsson in January for $1.15 billion, was one of nine companies conditionally approved by the FCC to provide white-space database management services, and the second to have its technology go to trial. A 10th—Microsoft—applied late and won approval in July. Spectrum Bridge of Lake Mary, Fla., became the first company to gain approval to operate a white-space database on Dec. 22, 2011. The company most recently partnered with a device maker, Meld Technology, to create a portable low-power unlicensed device capable of receiving HDTV over white spaces.

Commission rules require that unlicensed TV band devices—TVBDs—contact an authorized database system to obtain a list of available channels. The databases are supposed to track and log all licensed operations in the TV spectrum, 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 and relay their location to find open frequencies.