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Cable Technology Feature Article

July 01, 2013

FCC Approves Google TV White Space Database for Use

By Tara Seals, TMCnet Contributor

The FCC (News - Alert) has approved Google’s TV white space database, which it began testing two months ago. White space databases are critical to freeing up new spectrum for mobile broadband use.

The exponential growth of wireless data traffic has created a strain on communications infrastructures in a world where spectrum resources are finite. TV white spaces, which are frequency bands once occupied by TV broadcast but now vacated by the move to digital television, are considered prime real estate for supporting mobile broadband and machine to machine (M2M) communications outside of the typical—and scarce—3G and 4G bands.

TV white spaces also offer attractive propagation attributes, such as the ability to travel over longer distances and penetrate more obstacles such as trees, hills and buildings than technologies using higher frequencies, including conventional Wi-Fi. And, being unlicensed, they offer the opportunities to roll out low-cost broadband in underserved areas. California ISP Cal.Net launched a consumer white space broadband service in California’s Gold Country region, which features challenging, hilly terrain, delivering 2–4Mbps Internet to residents.

However, white spaces tend to be adjacent to operating broadcast frequencies, and are often used for local unlicensed applications in any given market. This has raised the question of how to avoid interference and potential local broadcast degradation—the answer to which is to create databases of which channels are occupied by which services, against which any new service must be checked.

Several providers have offered to take up the database chore, including Google and Telcordia (News - Alert) (also approved). Key Bridge Global meanwhile finished a database trial in April, but is still awaiting FCC approval.

Edited by Rachel Ramsey

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