FCC Approves First White Spaces Database, Device

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission has approved the first database of unlicensed wireless spectrum that can be used by new so-called white spaces devices.

The FCC's Office of Engineering and Technology on Thursdayalso approved a device from Koos Technical Services (KTS) that can operate in the white spaces, which are unused bands in the area of spectrum used by television stations. The KTS device will operate in conjunction with the approved white spaces database, from Spectrum Bridge.

KTS makes a broadband transmitter device designed to operate in the white spaces.

"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," FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said in a statement. "Unleashing white spaces spectrum has the potential to exceed even the many billions of dollars in economic benefit from WiFi, the last significant release of unlicensed spectrum, and drive private investment and job creation."

Operations under the approval will be limited initially to the Wilmington, North Carolina, area, where the FCC has conducted white spaces tests. The operation of white spaces devices will expand nationwide as the FCC begins to approve request for protection of wireless microphones at event venues.

In recent years, several tech vendors and consumer groups have pushed for the FCC to open up the white spaces, sometimes called super Wi-Fi spectrum, to mobile broadband devices. TV stations and wireless microphone makers raises concerns about interference.

Early device tests had mixed results, leading the FCC to pursue a spectrum database approach. The new KTS device will contact the Spectrum Bridge database to identify channels that are available for operation at its location and can provide high-speed Internet connectivity, the FCC said.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is grant_gross@idg.com.

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