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Google's TV white space database approved for operation

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Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) TV white space (TVWS) database system won approval for operation from the FCC's Office of Engineering and Technology.

TVWS supporters such as Google contend the unlicensed spectrum is suitable for bringing cost-effective broadband service to rural and remote areas in the United States and around the world. The FCC has authorized use of five spectrum blocks for TVWS operations: 54 to 60 MHz, TV channel 2; 76 to 88 MHz, TV channels 5 and 6; 174 to 216 MHz, TV channels 7 to 13; 470 to 608 MHz, TV channels 14 to 36; and 614 to 698 MHz, TV channels 38 to 51.

Database systems such as Google's, which provides a list of available TVWS channels, are necessary to support unlicensed radio devices transmitting in the spectrum bands used by broadcast television. In order to avoid creating interference, TV band devices (TVBDs) must contact an authorized database system to obtain a list of channels that are available at their individual locations and operate only on those channels. 

Google concluded a trial of its database system on April 17. Rival database operator Key Bridge Global wrapped up a similar trial one week later on April 24. The FCC has not yet announced approval of Key Bridge's database system.

TVWS databases operated separately by Spectrum Bridge and Telcordia, which is now owned by Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC), were the first to gain FCC approval.

Google's TVWS database system is part of the company's efforts to make more spectrum available for broadband access through dynamic spectrum sharing. Google is deeply involved in numerous international TVWS development efforts, as is Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT).

"White spaces could help bridge the digital divide by providing wireless internet to rural areas and help enable technology innovation," said Google.

Google's recently announced balloon-powered Project Loon, currently being tested in New Zealand, is yet another of Google's plethora of initiatives designed to expand broadband access to people in underserved markets.

TVWS database systems are required to protect many services including TV stations, fixed broadcast auxiliary service (BAS) links (regular licensed and temporary), multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs), private land mobile and commercial mobile radio service operations as well as certain approved unlicensed wireless microphone venue sites.

TVWS databases extract much of their information from FCC databases. However, operators of MVPD receive sites, and wireless microphone users and operators of temporary BAS links must specifically register their sites to receive protection from TVBDs. Google is providing facilities for registering for these operations through its database system's website.

For more:
- see this FCC release
- see this Google Q&A webpage

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