TV white spaces - One year at the FCC

What has happened: The FCC approved the unlicensed use of TV white space spectrum for wireless applications and devices in November 2008, while adding rigorous conditions under which the devices would have to operate to prevent interference. When the FCC authorized the unlicensed use of the white space spectrum--the tiny sliver of airwaves between broadcast TV stations--for mobile broadband use, it mandated that a database be set up to provide geolocation data for white space devices. The idea is that devices would connect to the database before sending and receiving data to determine what frequencies they could use, thereby preventing interference with TV and wireless microphone signals.

Several companies, including Google, submitted proposals to the FCC in January to design and manage the database

What's next: There is a major complication to the white space debate. The FCC is pushing for voluntary incentive auctions of broadcast spectrum, which could squeeze the white spaces, said Chris Guttman-McCabe, CTIA's vice president of regulatory affairs. He said if broadcasters get moved, that could change the contours of the spectrum.   

The FCC, for its part, insists all is well on the white space front. The commission laid out an action agenda in April, and plans to issue a white spaces order finalizing the rules sometime in the third quarter. "We are still on track, and we are hopeful that we can select the TV White Space database managers in that same timeframe," said Ruth Milkman, the chief of the FCC's Wireless Telecommunications Bureau

"I know the FCC wants to do it and get it right," Guttman-McCabe said. "So it isn't for a lack of trying, but it's difficult."

TV white spaces - One year at the FCC