updated 05:35 pm EST, Tue December 1, 2009
FCC white space rule would ease mobile data
The FCC late last week approved the creation of a database of white space frequencies to accelerate white space data access. Collected by a third party, the information would make a note of which frequencies are still being used by existing TV networks and thus which of the unused airwaves, or white spaces, could safely be used for wide-area networks. The database would be privately run and could charge for access to a limited number of aspects of the database, such as pre-made lists of available frequencies or registering hardware that runs at a fixed frequency.
Devices made to recognize white space access would themselves need some form of geolocation, such as through native GPS or by triangulating wireless signals, to access the database and automatically detect which frequencies they can use in a given area.
Actual products and services running on white space bands are still considered distant but have been heavily promoted by technology firms like Google and Microsoft, many of whom see the technology as useful for long-range Internet access on frequencies that can't be licensed and therefore tightly controlled by a carrier. TV broadcasters and others opposed the use of the frequencies ostensibly under concerns that it would interfere with both TV and public safety systems, but critics have charged that they're also motivated by fears of Internet-based services rendering over-the-air TV obsolete.
Th FCC has already concluded that white space devices won't create interference through testing conducted ahead of last year's approval.