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FCC invites white space bids

Asks Microsoft, Google if they want a monopoly

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

The FCC has invited those interested in running a white space database to explain how they would manage it, and if they're expecting to be handed a monopoly.

The FCC's invitation (pdf) asks potential band managers how they think the work should be divided up, and which part they would like to take on themselves. Then it's a matter of explaining how the database will be funded, and architected, with pictures.

White space devices operate in the areas between TV transmitters, but risk interfering with TV if used at the wrong frequency in the wrong place. White space advocates, including Microsoft and Google, proposed "Detect & Avoid" technologies that were supposed to spot where the TV transmissions were and dynamically avoid them - the only problem being that they don't work.

Less high tech, but more reliable, is to use an on-line database of TV transmitters and check against that before use, as explained by the FCC:

Devices must include a geo-location capability and the capability to access a database that identifies incumbent users entitled to interference protection.

That puts white space well away from "Wi-Fi On Steroids", as it was promoted, and firmly in the cheapo-fixed-link business. A company with two nearby offices might use a pair of white space devices to link them up, with at least one of the devices using GPS and an internet connection to decide on a suitable frequency for that specific link.

Such devices will still need some Detect & Avoid capability, for when the company next door decides to do the same thing, but the FCC isn't really concerned about that as the interference won't bother licence-paying media companies.

The White Spaces Database Group, backed by Microsoft and Google, will certainly want to have a crack at holding a monopoly on the database, but will face competition from radio-specialists such as Spectrum Bridge, amongst others.

Anyone wanting to be considered needs to get back to the FCC by January 4th, offering to run the whole thing, or just part of it, as they feel fit. ®

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