FCC Approves White Space Use

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Washington - Sep 23, 2010 - The FCC voted 5-0 to permit the use of unlicensed wireless devices on white-space frequencies. White spaces are the spectrum not licensed for over-the-air television stations. This spectrum is regularly used for non-licensed auxiliary use, such as wireless mics and wireless IFB.

In its ruling, the FCC notes that this represents the first release of unlicensed spectrum in 25 years. Several companies including Google, Microsoft, Dell and HP have advocated for the use of the white-space frequencies. One of the most common proposals for this spectrum is to provide additional Wi-fi services.

The adoption of the FCC's second memorandum opinion and order resolves several previous legal and technical issues. They include:

  • No requirement that TV-band devices that incorporate geo-location and database access must also incorporate sensing technology for TV station signals or low-power auxiliary service stations (wireless microphones).
  • Wireless microphone users seeking to register in the TV bands databases must certify that they will use all available channels from 7 through 51 prior to requesting registration.
  • Database registration requests will be public, which will allow interested parties to comment on any given request.

    One other important component in the regulations is that the order reserves two vacant UHF channels for wireless microphones and other low-power auxiliary service devices throughout the United States. It also specifies the separation distance between TV white-space devices and wireless microphone usage permitted to be registered in the database.

    The issue of who will administer the frequency database has yet to be resolved. The final decision will be made by the FCC's Office of Engineering and Technology.

    ET Docket No. 04-186
    ET Docket No. 02-380

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