Google revamps its TV white-space database system ahead of 600 MHz auction

Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) has upgraded its TV band database system, which enables unlicensed use of TV white space spectrum (TVWS), and the new and improved system can be tested by the public for 45 days starting June 2.

Google's system received FCC approval for operation nearly one year ago. Yet Spectrum Bridge, the first approved TV band database administrator, has been managing registration of protected entities on Google's behalf. Now, however, Google has its own protected facility registration procedures, which will free it from relying upon Spectrum Bridge's technology for those functions.

According to the FCC's Office of Engineering and Technology, the upcoming trial will help ensure that Google's modified database system provides protection to registered facilities as specified in the rules. If results of the 45-day trial indicate a need for additional testing, the FCC may extend the trial period. Once Google submits a satisfactory summary report regarding the trial, the FCC will grant final approval for Google to operate its modified database system.

The commission's Part 15 rules require unlicensed TV band devices (TVBDs) to contact an authorized database system to obtain a list of channels that are available in their geographic location for their use, meaning the channels are not occupied by incumbent, authorized users. Once a device provides its geographic location to a TV band database system, the database returns a list of available channels.

The need for reliable TVWS database systems is expected to grow, as more TVWS spectrum will be opened up under rules for next year's incentive auction of 600 MHz broadcast TV spectrum. Depending upon how much spectrum is voluntarily relinquished by broadcasters in a reverse auction and repacked for the forward auction, a total of 14 to 28 MHz of guard band spectrum should be available for unlicensed use in a given area. The agency expects the guard bands will be between 7 MHz and 11 MHz wide, again depending upon how much spectrum is repurposed in a given market.

FCC rules require that TV band database systems protect broadcast TV stations; fixed broadcast auxiliary service (BAS) links; receive sites (and received channels) of TV translator, low power TV, class A TV stations, and multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs); private land mobile radio service and commercial mobile radio service operations; offshore radio telephone service operations; radio astronomy operations at specific sites; and low-power auxiliary service operations.

The FCC has so far approved for operation TV band databases operated by Spectrum Bridge, iconectiv (formerly Telcordia Technologies), Key Bridge Global and Google (its initial database prior to this recent modification).

For more:
- see this FCC release (PDF)

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