White Space database administrators: the nine companions

On Jan 26th 2011 the FCC chose Google and eight other companies to be the administrators of the White Space database that will track open channels, or white spaces, within the TV spectrum, and communicate those channels to unlicensed devices. The other eight companies are Comsearch, Frequency Finder, KB Enterprises and LS Telcom, Key Bridge, Neustar, Spectrum Bridge, Telcordia, and WSdb

From Richard Whitt, Google’s Washington Telecom and Media Counsel:

Richard Whitt

Richard Whitt: Senior Policy Director, Google

“For several years now, the tech industry, the public interest community, and entrepreneurs have been clamoring for the green light to begin innovating and building new products for these airwaves on an unlicensed basis. Today’s order finally sets the stage for the next generation of wireless technologies to emerge, and is an important victory for Internet users across the country.

Chairman Genachowski and his fellow Commissioners deserve ample credit for adopting rules that ultimately will put better and faster wireless broadband connections in the hands of the public. We’re glad to see that the FCC appears to have rejected calls to enact burdensome and unnecessary constraints that would have made it more difficult to deploy useful technologies on these airwaves. Instead, the Commission has put forward common-sense rules that will help encourage innovation, while fully safeguarding incumbent signals from interference.”

Dell White Space

Dell White Space

The White Space debate has been going on for quite some time (2/23/06) and is a struggle between the local TV broadcasters and new information companies (3/13/06) to better utilize resources that have become available through the shift from analog to digital terrestrial TV signals. Back in the days of analog TV, much like analog radio, stations were assign a signal frequency that was a set distance away from the nearest stations on either side so that the signals would not bleed over and interfere with each others transmission. When the transition to digital TV was made, it became to hard for the broadcasters to keep the White Space movement down(9/13/10), eventually. (9/23/10)

The FCC began taking soliciting proposals for the White Space database administration in the Fall of 2009 and wound up accepting all of them. And now the nine companions will take control of the national database that “will tell the white space devices what spectrum may be used at that location. In addition a listen-before-talk capability will avoid interference from other users of the spectrum.”

Available US White Space

Available US White Space

According to Forbes: “The databases won’t be active for several weeks. The FCC has asked all administrators to submit additional information about their database plans by Feb. 28 and attend a March 10 workshop to go over the agency’s rules. Administrators will then undergo a 45-day trial period. If they pass the trial, they will be able to operate their databases for five-year terms.”

Here is the announcement by the FCC (PDF).

And here is a video from Chris Sacca from Lowercase Capital, speaking for Freetheairwaves, 2/5/09:

About Daniel Davenport

Daniel is a digital media executive with internet and broadcast experience. Daniel is currently the executive strategy director at THINK Interactive.


  1. Apple: MVNO 2.0 and then some | thinkd2c - February 14, 2011

    […] happens when the White Spaces open up? When the White Space database comes online why would Apple not make its new “dual band” phones able to use the free White Space […]

  2. Nuel launches White Space radio system | thinkd2c - June 13, 2011

    […] while since the FCC ok’ed the spectrum for unlicensed use and appointed the nine White Space database administrators so its nice to see a product finally hit the […]

  3. White Space: the thrill is gone | thinkd2c - September 7, 2011

    […] a recent interview with Peter Stanforth, CTO at Spectrum Bridge, one of the nine White Space database administrators, Higginbotham concludes, “commercial radios won’t be […]

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