FCC Brings "Super Wi-Fi" Closer to Reality in TV White Spaces

While many of us in the Washington, DC area were dealing with white spaces of a different kind, the Federal Communications Commission was taking two important actions to bring closer to reality the use of TV white spaces for wireless broadband service. First, four months after releasing its new rules, the FCC finally adopted an order "conditionally selecting" nine companies to be administrators for the geolocation database that will be used to identify available and unused TV channels. Second, the FCC granted an experimental license to Rini Coran, PC client Carlson Wireless Technologies Inc. (CWT) to deploy a broadband network on white space channels within the Yurok Reservation along the scenic Klamath River in Northern California.

In the database order, the FCC approved these companies to act as database administrators:

All of these companies had submitted requests to be selected for the administrator role. Each entity will have until February 28, 2011 to amend its proposal to comply with the new rules adopted in September. The selected companies also will need to attend mandatory workshops -- the first of which will be March 10, 2011 -- and to work closely with the FCC "to ensure competency, consistency and compliance" with the rules. Each administrator must trial its database for at least 45 days before it can make its database available for actual use by TV bands devices. The administrators will be subject to a five-year term running from the date on which the FCC announces that a particular database is publicly available.

The FCC intends to exercise careful supervision over the databases. In addition to technical compliance, the administrators are subject to privacy and security rules and may not engage in discriminatory or anti-competitive behavior.

Under the experimental license granted to CWT, the Yurok Tribe will be the first Native American tribe in the nation to take advantage of white spaces. Notably, the FCC's National Broadband Plan identified white spaces as presenting a significant opportunity for provision of broadband service to Tribal lands. With this experimental license, CWT joins the white space ecosystem and signals plans to become a major player.

Not that anyone here in the Washington area is wishing for more snow, but if a large dose of the white stuff is what it takes to get the FCC to act on white spaces, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Comments (1)

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Mike Marcus - February 4, 2011 12:04 PM

My source tell me that FCC still does not have OMB clearance for the information collection part of this decision.

Also selecting data base guys is still only a first step. They have to approve data bases and broadcast interests will no doubt quibble all the way.