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FCC gives nod to nationwide TV white-space database operation

Unlicensed transmitting devices operating in unused portions of the TV band got the go-ahead for nationwide operation last week when the FCC Office of Engineering and Technology authorized TV white-space database systems for use throughout the United States, its territories and possessions.

Before white-space devices may be used, they are required to receive a list of available channels in their area of operation. With OET’s March 1 granting of nationwide operating authority to approved database systems, including those of Spectrum Bridge and Telcordia Technologies, the devices have access to the linchpin necessary for their use.

OET authorized the database system operators for nationwide deployment following a commission effort launched in fall 2012 to register venues where unlicensed wireless mics are frequently used on the East Coast. Once the office was satisfied that operation of the registration system was valid, OET and the agency’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau opened the system to registration of similar venues around the country.

According to OET, enough time has passed since it opened the system to register venues where unlicensed wireless mics are regularly used to allow the TV white-space database systems to begin operation nationwide.

The TV white-space database systems were set up to protect:

  • broadcast television stations (including full-power, TV translator, low-power TV, and Class A stations);
  • fixed broadcast auxiliary service (BAS) links (regular licensed and temporary);
  • receive sites (and received channels) of TV translator, low-power and Class A TV stations, and multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs);
  • public safety and private land mobile operations;
  • offshore radio telephone service operations;
  • radio astronomy service operations at specific sites;
  • low-power auxiliary service operations (licensed and certain approved unlicensed wireless microphone venue sites).

For a venue, like an arena or theater, where unlicensed wireless mics are used to be added to the database, operators of those facilities are required to ask for FCC approval and to request registration at least 30 days before operation.