Google wants to be a white space database administrator

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Updated Jan. 6, 2009

Google is asking the Federal Communications Commission to name the company as one of the database administrators for white space devices. Nine entities have applied to do so.

In late 2008, the FCC approved the unlicensed use of TV white space spectrum--which is unused TV broadcast channels--for wireless applications and devices. However, the commission added some rigorous conditions under which the devices would have to operate to prevent interference with surrounding signals, namely wireless microphones and television broadcasts.

The FCC approved the use of both unlicensed fixed band devices and portable personal devices that have geolocation capabilities and access to an FCC database of TV signals and locations of venues such as stadiums, churches and entertainment venues where wireless microphones were being used. These database and geolocation capabilities would, in theory, prevent  interference with broadcast TV stations and wireless microphones and ensure compliance with FCC rules.

While Google, a large proponent of the white-space market, has indicated in the past that it didn't plan on becoming a database administrator, the company has now changed its tune, saying it needed to push the effort along. It now proposes to build a geolocation database.

Richard Whitt, Google's Washington telecom and media counsel, announced the plan on the company's blog: "Why are we offering to do this? We continue to be big believers in the potential for this spectrum to revolutionize wireless broadband, and we think it's important for us to step forward and offer our assistance to make that vision a reality. Since launching the White Spaces Database Group last February, we've been working with other stakeholders to exchange ideas and perspectives on how to best operate a working database, and we believe we're in a strong position to build and successfully manage one."

Last year Spectrum Bridge, which has also applied to become a white-space database administrator, launched a website to provide consumers with the ability to find any open white space channels at any location in the United States.

Meanwhile, FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell, in an interview on the C-SPAN show, said he is skeptical that Google should be an administrator of the FCC's white-space database.

"The administration of phone numbers, for example, has been administrated by a neutral third party, by someone without business interests," McDowell said. He added that white space spectrum could be used to offset demand for more wireless spectrum, and could also help solve public policy issues such as net neutrality.

For more:
- check out this Cnet article
- read this FierceWireless article

Related articles:
Spectrum Bridge claims world's first white-space network
FCC approves white spaces, creates interference restrictions
Spectrum Bridge launches white space website
FCC white space rules to take effect in March
Microsoft-backed study values white spaces at more than $100 billion