Google's TV white-space database edges closer to launch

Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is set to become the third entity approved to a TV white-spaces (TVWS) database if its system passes a 45-day public trial beginning today.

The company hopes to join Spectrum Bridge and Telcordia, whose databases have already gained FCC approval and are operating. The FCC's Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) said the trial of Google's database will end on April 17, 2013, unless results of the trial indicate that additional testing is necessary.

The trial is intended to ensure Google's database system accurately identifies channels that are available for use by unlicensed TV band devices (TVBDs), properly registers radio transmitting facilities entitled to protection and provides protection to authorized services and registered facilities as specified in TVWS rules.

The commission's Part 15 rules require that TVBDs contact an authorized database system to obtain a list of channels that are available for their operation at their individual locations and must operate only on those channels.

Test participants are being encouraged to report any inaccuracies or provide comments on other issues with any aspect of the database system to Google through the response facility on the trial's website. The FCC said Google will respond, as appropriate, to such reports and comments with an explanation and notification of any responsive actions it may take, as appropriate.

OET is responsible for granting grant final approval for Google to operate its database system with certified TVBDs once it determines that the system complies with all of the applicable rules and requirements.

Critics have questioned Google's qualifications to operate a TVWS database. In January 2010, FCC commissioner Robert McDowell addressed whether a company such as Google that has a business interest in TVWS spectrum should be allowed to administer a database. He responded that historically the administration items such as phone numbers has been conducted by a neutral third party.

Several observers suggest the database play is part of Google's long-term plan to use white-space spectrum for its own mobile broadband services. Steven Crowley, a wireless engineer and blogger, told Ars Technica, "Google is interested in the business and could, potentially, create a white space network on down the line."

Harold Feld, Public Knowledge senior vice president, told Ars Technica he thinks Google applied to become a database provider so it wouldn't have to worry about anyone else providing key infrastructure if and when the Internet giant moves to monetize TVWS in some manner.

Other entities selected to operate TVWS databases but which have not yet participated in public tests are Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), Comsearch, Frequency Finder, KB Enterprises, LS Telcom, Key Bridge Global, Neustar and WSdb. All of the named database managers were selected by the FCC in January 2011, save Microsoft, which secured its designation in July 2011.

The FCC approved the use of unlicensed TVWS spectrum in September 2010.

For more:
- see this FCC document (PDF)
- see this Mission Critical article
- see this Ars Technica article

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