Google, tech allies form white space lobbying group

Google Wednesday announced it was joining forces with other technology companies to lobby the FCC with recommendations for what the technical specifications should be in a white spaces technology database.

The Internet search giant, along with Comsearch, Dell, HP, Microsoft, Motorola and Neustar announced plans to launch the White Spaces Database Group. Despite the fact that a DTV delay would mean a delay in the availability of white spaces--the spectrum between airwaves currently licensed to TV broadcasters--the companies said they would ramp up the effort to work with the FCC on recommendations for a database.

The database will provide white space devices the ability to sense via geolocation whether there are signals in the area that would cause interference because of the device. Microsoft and Motorola were two key allies in Google's initial lobbying effort to get the FCC to approve the use of white space devices.

"In the coming weeks and months, members of the group will be offering to the Commission their perspectives, and some specific recommendations, about the technical requirements we would like to see adopted for the database," Richard Whitt, Google's Washington telecom and media counsel, wrote in a blog post. "Many of these specifications ultimately will be heavily technical; put simply, we'll advocate for data formats and protocols that are open and non-proprietary, with database administration that is also open and non-exclusive."

White space spectrum had been the focus of intense debate for months. Google and its allies had advocated using those slices of spectrum to bring broadband wireless access to rural areas of the United States and to increase the use of wireless devices and applications in the spectrum in general.

When the FCC voted to approve white spaces in November, it heralded the decision as a big step forward for wireless technology in the United States. "One of the lessons of history I have learned since coming to the commission is the power of technology to turn scarcity into abundance," FCC Commissioner (and now acting chair) Michael Copps said at the FCC's Nov. 4 meeting.

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

The FCC did not approve devices that used spectrum sensing technology only, but did say that these devices could be approved at a later date if they would undergo additional certifications, including proof-of-performance tests.

For more:
- see this article
- see this Google blog post
- see this release

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