Microsoft Wants to Manage TV White Spaces

WASHINGTON: Microsoft now wants to manage a database of television white spaces. The Federal Communications Commission today opened a docket on a proposal from the software powerhouse. Microsoft was not among nine entities conditionally designated by the FCC in January to manage white spaces. It was, however, integral in the campaign to open that spectrum for unlicensed use, and provided prototype devices to the FCC for testing. White spaces refer to the frequencies that lie between TV signals to prevent adjacent-channel interference.

“We intend to consider designating Microsoft as a TV bands database administrator,” the FCC’s Notice states.

The purpose of the databases is to provide a reference for the unlicensed devices now being authorized to use white spaces. Devices must ping a database to make sure frequencies aren’t occupied by licensed users. Full- and low-power TV stations, broadcast auxiliary point-to-point facilities, private land mobile and commercial radio service operations on Chs. 14-20, and offshore radiotelephone services are protected.

“The database also will be used to register the locations of fixed TV bands devices and the protected locations and channels of incumbent services that are not recorded in commission databases,” the Notice states

The commission issued its call for white-space database managers in November of 2009. Nine responded, and all nine were conditionally designated in late January. The FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology has held two workshops since then on the operation of the databases. The commission’s Notice said Microsoft representatives attended both. The company filed its request with FCC OET chief Julius Knapp April 18.

Comments are due on Microsoft’s proposal May 20, 2011. Reply comments are due May 31. The proposal is filed in the white-space docket, No. 04-186.

The original nine designees included Google, Comsearch, Neustar, Key Bridge Global, KB Enterprises, Frequency Finder, WSdB LLC, Spectrum Bridge and Telecordia. All applicants will be subject to a 45-day trial period.

~ Deborah D. McAdams