FCC approves use of white space

US regulator the FCC has announced the approval of the use of white space spectrum, paving the way for a new generation of wireless services. The announcement was made following a green light from the Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) over the use of software developer Spectrum Bridge’s white space database system. The database is designed to avoid conflict between broadcasters and wireless service providers in the use of spectrum.

Spectrum Bridge may now provide its data to the wireless industry beginning on 26 January 2012. A broadband transmitter device by Koos Technical Services was also approved by the OET and will act in conjunction with the database.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said, “With today’s approval of the first TV white space 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.”

The white space database developed by Spectrum Bridge is designed to prevent devices using the white space spectrum from interfering with adjacent TV broadcasts. Television broadcasters and members of the wireless industry had expressed concern in the past that the use of the spectrum would interfere with their existing services.

White space service operations will initially be limited to Wilmington in North Carolina and the surrounding area, where the FCC conducted testing, and will be expanded across the US following the completion and activation of FCC facilities for processing white space requests.

The announcement is a victory for technology companies including Microsoft and Google, as well as consumer groups who had petitioned for the use of white space spectrum for several years.

Spectrum Bridge has also made applications with regulators in several other countries. It is likely that FCC approval will increase the chances of these applications succeeding.

UK regulator Ofcom announced plans for the use of white space spectrum in September. The project is expected to launch in 2013.

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