Report: FCC close to finalizing rules for TV white spaces

The FCC is poised to create rules for white space spectrum, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal, which could pave the way for unlicensed use of the airwaves by technology and wireless companies.

According to the report, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski's top aides have met with broadcasters and other stakeholders in recent weeks to iron out the details. The issue could come up for a vote as soon as the FCC's September meeting, the report said.

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

The FCC set a deadline to issue the final 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," Ruth Milkman, the chief of the FCC's Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, recently told FierceWireless.

Technology companies--including Dell, Google, Microsoft and others--want to use the spectrum to create a new wave of wireless devices. However, there is a major complication to the white space debate: The FCC is also pushing for voluntary incentive auctions of broadcast spectrum for mobile broadband, which could squeeze the white spaces. If broadcasters get shifted, that could change the contours of the white space spectrum. 

For more:
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)

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