FCC greenlights public White Space test

Yesterday the FCC gave the go ahead for the first public test of the White Space spectrum.  Annoying referred to now as the Super Wifi, the test will be conducted by Spectrum Bridge, one of the nine plus one White Space database administrators.

From the Washington Post:

“Unleashing white spaces spectrum will enable a new wave of wireless innovation,” said FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski in a statement. “It has the potential to exceed the billions of dollars in economic benefit from WiFi, the last significant release of unlicensed spectrum, and drive private investment and job creation.”

From the FCC (Word document):

“Today, the Commission is taking a critical step towards that goal by issuing a public notice announcing the start of the first trial of a TV white spaces database. The limited public testing of Spectrum Bridge’s database system is intended to allow the public to access and test the system to ensure that it correctly identifies channels that are available for unlicensed TV band devices, properly registers those facilities entitled to protection, and provides protection to authorized services and registered facilities as specified in the rules.

Commission rules require that unlicensed TV band devices contact an authorized database system to obtain a list of channels that are available for their operation (i.e., channels not occupied by authorized radio services) at their individual locations and must operate only on those channels. The trial of the Spectrum Bridge database system is scheduled to last for 45 days, ending November 2, 2011. Parties may participate in the trial by accessing Spectrum Bridge’s TV band database test facility at  http://whitespaces.spectrumbridge.com/Trial.aspx.” (This link goes to a web page that seems to be a single, unclickable image…)

White Space Channel Availability for Low Power (40 mW) Personal/Portable TVBDs (Channels 21 - 51)

From Spectrum Bridge:

Spectrum Bridge has developed and made tools available to help you understand the utility and implications of using White Spaces Spectrum:

“Unused TV spectrum is termed “TV White Spaces”, or simply “TV White Space”. The FCC has not dictated specific modulation or protocol requirements for TV Band Devices (TVBDs), allowing TV White Space to employ a wide range of devices and applications on an unlicensed basis, similar to Wi-Fi.

The FCC has also ensured incumbent TV band users (TV broadcasters, public safety, registered microphone users, etc) have priority over TV White Space Device operation. To make certain incumbent users are protected, TV White Space devices communicate with a database to obtain a list of currently available White Space channels.  Available channels may vary, depending on TVBD device type and location.

From Ars Technica:

“As part of its authorization process for TV band database systems, the Commission stated that each database will be subject to a public trial period of not less than 45 days to ensure that the database is providing accurate results before it is allowed to be made available for regular public use,” the FCC says.

If that means that each of these companies has to be tested, at 45 days a cycle, we are talking about over three hundred tryout days for the whole white space database team—and that doesn’t include the evaluation periods in between each trial. Even if it doesn’t take that long, clearly we are quite a ways from the hoped for or dreaded moment when unlicensed broadband devices are ready to go to market.”

About Daniel Davenport

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

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