Google Proposes To Monitor TV White Spaces


Google, which pushed the Federal Communications Commission to open up the so-called white spaces between TV channels, wants to run them as well.

In a blog posting Monday evening, Google Washington counsel Richard Whitt said the company had submitted a proposal to the commission to be designated one of the administrators of a geolocation database.

Unlicensed devices the FCC is allowing to share the TV spectrum must be capable of connecting to the database to find out what channels are open for use and which are not in any location.

Google is proposing to provide all of the database architecture, from storage to search, for what it says should be multiple managers, and says it is in the best position to provide an open, publicly accessible, secure system, which it will commit to paying for for five years, per FCC requirements.

It does not anticipate charging a per-inquiry fee -- though the FCC permits the database administer to do so -- though it did not rule them out either. Google can also charge for registering spectrum users.

The company envisions a clearinghouse model where a number of database service providers would be able to cooperate to form voluntary arrangements to share commission data.

Google was responding to the FCC's issuance of a request for proposals for a database manager.

Back when the FCC approved the so-called white spaces between TV channels for use by the devices, it made a part of that decision a combination geo-location device and database identifying incumbent band users, which include full-power and low-power TV stations.

That is an effort to prevent interference from the devices, which search out vacant spectrum to operate on. The database is meant to tell an unlicensed device which channels are vacant, as well as to register the locations of fixed devices and "protected locations and channels" not listed in FCC databases.

Those could include cable headends or locations where wireless microphones are regularly used.

The FCC in late November said it was looking for someone to manage the database that will identify unused TV spectrum for use by unlicensed devices like laptops for mobile broadband.

In the notice, the FCC gave potential database managers until Jan. 4 to outline proposals for the database, which will have to contain the information, a process for incumbents to register, and a way for devices to query it.

The public will now have until Feb. 18 to comment on the proposals.