FCC Authorizes White Space Service in Wilmington

The Federal Communications Commission today approved Spectrum Bridge (pdf) as the first database administrator of unused (“white space”) frequencies in the United States and certified Koos Technical Services (KTS) as the first equipment provider.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said (pdf), “With today’s approval of the first TV white spaces database and device, we are taking an important step towards enabling a new wave of wireless innovation. Unleashing white spaces spectrum has the potential to exceed even the many billions of dollars in economic benefit from Wi-Fi, the last significant release of unlicensed spectrum, and drive private investment and job creation.”


Unused spectrum between TV stations – known as “white spaces” – represents a valuable opportunity for provision of broadband data services in our changing wireless landscape. This unused TV spectrum provides a major new platform for innovation and delivery of service, with potential for both research and commercial applications.

Development of unlicensed radio transmitting devices has already led to a wave of new consumer technologies, including Wi-Fi and other innovations like digital cordless phones and in-home video distribution systems that have generated billions of dollars of economic growth. This new technology will build on that track record and provide even more benefits to the U.S. economy.

Commission rules require that unlicensed TV band devices contact an authorized database system to obtain a list of channels that are available for their operation (i.e., channels not occupied by authorized radio services) at their individual locations and must operate only on those channels.

The FCC approval allows Spectrum Bridge and KTS to begin operational service. White space devices must first query the Spectrum Bridge database to find out which channels are unoccupied.

The first official White Space test deployment will be in Wilmington, North Carolina. That city was also the first digital television “transition” market, some three years ago.

The FCC issued an order that opens up vacant airwaves for new unlicensed applications in September 2010 (pdf). The Order eliminates the requirement that TV bands devices which incorporate geo-location and database access must also include sensing technology to detect the signals of TV stations. It also includes steps to ensure that incumbent services are protected from interference from the use of white spaces in various ways. This includes reserving two vacant UHF channels for wireless microphones and other low power auxiliary service devices in all areas of the country.

The Wireless Innovation Alliance, which hopes to preserve “unlicensed” white spaces in the unused television frequencies, is concerned about spectrum legislation that will stop new entrants into the wireless market through “incentive auctions” of broadcast spectrum that would allow only “licensed” users paying big bucks for spectrum.

Yochai Benkler, Professor of law at Harvard University, says “incentive auctions” threaten the future of wireless innovation by eliminating unlicensed spectrum. Tech companies generally favor license-free use of white space spectrum. Like Wi-Fi, cheap or inexpensive spectrum spurs innovation and device use, they argue.

Related Dailywireless articles include; White Space Legislation Goes Dark, White Space War, Bills to Kill Unlicensed White Space?, White Space Trial Completed, White Space Trialed, Huawei to Trial White Space TD-LTE, NTIA “Finds” 1.5 GHz of Federal Spectrum, UK Delays 4G Auction Ofcom: White Spaces by 2013, UK Gets Free Public WiFi, Europe’s Digital Divide Auction,

Posted by Sam Churchill on .

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