Wide open spaces? How about white spaces? These mysterious creatures hanging in the air, dealing with the digital TV transition and looking to free up spectrum, are now making their big splash in Wilmington, North Carolina. The FCC's Office of Engineering and Technology has just issued a public notice to start operation of the spectrum bridge's TV White Spaces database system, and they also authorized the first TV white spaces device. That device will be able to provide service to devices beginning January 26, 2012. OET has also approved a device by Koos Technical Services, Inc. (KTS) as the first product allowed to operate on an unlicensed basis on unused frequencies in the TV bands. The KTS device will operate in conjunction with the Spectrum Bridge TV band database.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said, "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 approval granted by OET allows Spectrum Bridge to commence operational service to new devices that can take advantage of the TV spectrum to provide service over greater ranges than those of Wi-Fi devices operating on higher frequencies.
Initial operation under this approval will be limited to Wilmington, NC and the surrounding area and will expand nationwide pending completion and activation of the Commission's facilities for processing requests for protection of unlicensed wireless microphone at event venues. Parties in the Wilmington area that wish to register wireless microphones for event venues during this period of limited operation must send a request to OET by e-mail in accordance with the instructions provided in the Public Notice. The future of TV is here -- you just didn't know it until today.