Skip to main content

White Space Databases Go Live Nationwide

WASHINGTON – The 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.

The authorization applies specifically to Telcordia of Piscataway, N.J., and Spectrum Bridge of Lake Mary, Fla., both of which have been operating the databases and wireless microphone registration systems along the East Coast; specifically, in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and Washington, D.C. The Federal Communications Commission’s Office of Engineering and Technology approved the move Friday.

Telcordia and Spectrum Bridge were the first to meet the FCC’s criteria for operating the databases. Google most recently entered a required 45-day trial during which wireless mic venues and incumbent spectrum licensees are encouraged to test the interface and channel-finding functions of the proposed database. That trial started on Monday and will run through April 17, 2013, unless otherwise extended by the OET.

The databases are supposed to keep track of unoccupied frequencies in the 54-698 MHz TV band. Consumer unlicensed devices—once they become available—will be required to communicate with the databases in order to operate on open frequencies. The database systems are supposed to protect authorized services by preventing unlicensed white-space devices from causing interference to the authorized, incumbent services.

Licensed TV operations are automatically registered through the FCC’s database. Unlicensed operations, such as temporary receive sites, low-power auxiliary stations, and venues where wireless mics are used, must register in at least one of the white-space databases, which are then supposed to be able to share the information with other operational databases.

Unlicensed devices will be allowed to operate in open frequencies from 54-72, 76-88, 174-216, 470-608 and 614-698 MHz.

“The propagation characteristics of the TV bands spectrum will allow operation of unlicensed radio devices that provide extended coverage and improved performance for wireless ‘hot-spots’ and campus networks, and also increase the amount of spectrum available for unlicensed wireless technologies,” the FCC’s Public Notice said. “It is expected that the opportunities afforded by allowing unlicensed devices in these bands will fuel innovation and investment in new unlicensed wireless technologies, much as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth have changed the landscape of communications today.”

The commission said it restricted the initial launch of the databases to the East Coast because its system for accepting and approving wireless mic venue requests was still under development. The OET and the FCC’s Wireless Telecom Bureau determined that the databases were ready to go live, nationwide, on Dec. 6, 2012, and issued a Public Notice to permit registration requests.

“We find that there has now been sufficient time since the opening of the unlicensed wireless microphone venue registration system for nationwide operation to allow the TV white-space database systems to provide service to TV white space devices on a nationwide basis,” the commission said. “Accordingly, the OET is hereby authorizing TV white-space database administrators that have been approved for operation to provide service to TV white-space devices located anywhere in the United States and its territories and possessions.

“Specifically, this nationwide operating authority applies to those database systems that have already been approved by OET, i.e., the systems of Spectrum Bridge, Inc. and Telcordia Technologies, Inc., and will subsequently apply to any other TV white space database system approved by OET.”

Other companies that won conditional approved as white-space database administrators include 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 lists no headquarters.

~ Deborah D. McAdams


February 27, 2013:
FCC 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:
Tokyo 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:
White 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.