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Cable Technology Feature Article

December 29, 2011

FCC Approves First White Spaces Database and Device

By Narayan Bhat, TMCnet Contributor

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC (News - Alert)) has finally approved the first database of unlicensed wireless spectrum that can be used by the so-called white spaces devices.

The Commission has approved Spectrum (News - Alert) Bridge Inc.’s television white spaces database system, allowing it to provide service to devices beginning January 26, 2012.

However the unlicensed wireless spectrum can now be operated only in Wilmington, North Carolina, area, where the FCC has conducted white spaces tests. But the operation will be allowed nationwide in the days ahead.

Tech vendors across the nation had long been pushing FCC for opening up the white spaces, also called super Wi-Fi spectrum, to mobile broadband devices.

FCC has also approved a device by Koos Technical Services, Inc. (KTS) as the first product allowed to operate on an unlicensed basis on unused frequencies in the TV bands. The KTS device will operate in conjunction with the Spectrum Bridge (News - Alert) TV band database.

“Unleashing white spaces spectrum has the potential to exceed even the many billions of dollars in economic benefit from Wi-Fi, the last significant release of unlicensed spectrum, and drive private investment and job creation,” FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski (News - Alert) stated in a press release.

FCC believes that the unused TV spectrum provides a major new platform for innovation and delivery of service, with potential for both research and commercial applications.

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 approval granted by OET allows Spectrum Bridge to commence operational service to new devices that can take advantage of the TV spectrum to provide service over greater ranges than those of Wi-Fi devices operating on higher frequencies.

Initial operation under this approval will be limited to Wilmington, NC and the surrounding area and will expand nationwide pending completion and activation of the Commission’s facilities for processing requests for protection of unlicensed wireless microphone at event venues.

The KTS TV bands device is designed for fixed operations that serve any broadband data applications. The device will contact the Spectrum Bridge database to identify channels that are available for operation at its location and can provide high-speed Internet connectivity.

Narayan Bhat is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Narayan’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell