Google OK’d as White-Space Admin as FCC Preps Repack Rules

WASHINGTON — Regulators have re-approved Google as a white-space database administer. The move comes as the Federal Communications Commission considers how to govern unlicensed devices in the post-incentive auction TV channel repack, which is expected to reduce the number of frequencies available for such devices—including wireless mics.

Google had to reapply for approval after changing its registration procedures, according to an FCC official. As one of several admins, Google will maintain a database of TV band spectrum occupants so that open frequencies can be identified by unlicensed devices. Since the National Broadband Plan was introduced in March of 2010 with its proposed 40 percent reduction of the TV band, concern has mounted in the nascent white-space tech community that unlicensed devices would be squeezed out of the space. Democrats on Capitol Hill have repeatedly implored the FCC to assure the preservation of white spaces.

The commission will take up the issue of post-auction technical standards for unlicensed devices in their Sept. 30 open meeting, according to John Eggerton at B&C. New designations for wireless mics will also be determined. Two UHF channels were set aside for wireless mics in the commission’s September, 2010, white space order.

“Everybody is aware of the 600 MHz reallocation,” David Marsh of Stow, Ohio’s Audio-Technica told TV Technology in March. “That’s going to hurt quite a few of us manufacturers.”

Commission rules for unlicensed devices require them to be able to ping an authorized database to avoid interfering with licensed incumbents. Protected incumbents include TV stations, registered wireless mics, broadcast auxiliary links, broadcast and cable receive sites, private land-mobile and commercial mobile radio operations, offshore radio telephone service, certain radio astronomy sites and certain low-power auxiliary operations. The majority of the information in the database comes from the FCC’s own database.

Cable receive sites, unlicensed and/or temporary wireless mic venues have to register with administrators. So far, four have been approved, including Google. The others include Spectrum Bridge, iconnectiv (Telcordia) and Keybridge. Another six cleared the FCC’s initial application process. Comsearch and LS Telecom LG have also completed testing, while Frequency Finder Inc., Microsoft, WSdb LLC and Neustar have not yet started, according to CommLawBlog.

White-space devices have not yet been widely deployed. The FCC’s Equipment Authorization database indicates there are six classifications for devices dividing them into fixed and mobile; and geo-locating versus spectrum-sensing. Only fixed, geo-locating devices have been approved; 15 in all.

Redline of Markham, Ontario, Canada, Koos Technical Services of Lake Mary, Fla.; Carlson Wireless of Arcata, Calif.; Meld Technology of Sunnyvale, Calif.; Adaptrum of San Jose, Calif.; and 6Harmonics of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada have had fixed geo-locating devices approved for various frequency ranges within the TV band.