Key Bridge usurps Google's role as newest TV white space database provider

Until this week, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) was the newest FCC-approved TV white space (TVWS) database administrator. That title now belongs to Key Bridge Global, which joins Google, Spectrum Bridge and Ericsson's (NASDAQ:ERIC) Telcordia unit as official providers of database support for the operation of low-power, unlicensed transmitting devices on unoccupied spectrum within the broadcast TV band.

However, the quartet appears close to becoming a quintet, as the FCC is also seeking public input regarding the results from the recently completed public trial of LS telecom's TVWS database system, which, if approved, would set the state for LS telecom to become the fifth approved database administrator.

Upon receiving operating approval, Key Bridge, based in McLean, Va., announced general commercial availability of its TVWS system. "We recognize that FCC certification is just the beginning, and with this important milestone behind us we intend to keep up if not increase our pace of innovation in this field," said company President Jesse Caulfield.

Key Bridge is marketing its white space portal as a hub for a suite of applications that customers can use to "explore their local wireless environment and to better understand the unlicensed operation on the Television White Space frequencies, which range from 54 to 698 MHz and are subject to geographic and schedule availability."

Key Bridge white space map

Key Bridge's white space database map.

The portal is available to the public free of charge, and user accounts and all basic TVWS transactions are free of charge, the company added.

Meanwhile, the FCC's Office of Engineering and Technology last week requested comment on the 45-day public trial of LS telcom's TVWS database system, which was completed on Aug. 8, 2013. Comments are due Nov. 29, with replies due Dec. 6.

Google was certified in July by the FCC to operate a TVWS database for commercial use. Since then, the company has been working on new developments with companies such as GE Industrial Communications, which used the database to explore how it could enable new communication options for its Industrial Internet products. Google announced last week that it is launching a developer API for the database that enables general exploration for any user, as well as a commercial account option for device manufacturers.

The FCC's rules require all unlicensed TVBDs operating in broadcast TV bands to contact an authorized database system to obtain a list of channels currently available for their operation at their specific location, so they know which frequencies they can use without causing interference. The FCC has granted conditional approval to 10 companies to provide TVWS database management services, but each must successfully complete a public trial of its technology before it can win final approval.

The five companies that have not yet entered databases into public testing are Comsearch, Frequency Finder, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), Neustar and WSdb.

In a recent interview with FierceWirelessTech, Paul Garnett, director of Microsoft's technology policy group, declined to comment on whether Microsoft is still interested in becoming a full-fledged FCC-approved TVWS database administrator. "We do prototype databases for our pilot projects when we need to. Like in Singapore, we do have a pilot database for that project," Garnett said.

For more:
- see this Keybridge release
- see this FCC notice (PDF)
- see this CommLawBlog post and this post

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