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U.S. Begins Trial of TV ‘White Space’ Identification System

The 45-day period ensures the system correctly identifies “white space” channels that are available for unlicensed television band devices.

The U.S. government began a 45-day public trial of Spectrum Bridge Inc.’s TV band database system to ensure the system correctly identifies “white space” channels that are available for unlicensed television band devices.

The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Office of Engineering and Technology began limited trial of Spectrum Bridge’s database system to provide the public with access to the system. In addition to testing if the system correctly identifies channels that are available for unlicensed television band devices, the FCC wants to know if the system properly registers those facilities entitled to protection, and provides protection to authorized services and registered facilities as specified in the rules.

The FCC says it is conducting the test because unused spectrum between television stations—called white space—“represents a valuable opportunity for our changing wireless mobile landscape.” Those blocks of spectrum are a “powerful platform for innovation and experimental use, holding rich potential for research and commercial purposes,” the FCC says. The development of those white spaces has led to a wave of new consumer technologies, including wi-fi and other innovations like baby monitors and cordless phones that have generated billions in economic growth, the commission says.

Commission rules require unlicensed television 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.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said, “Unleashing white spaces spectrum will enable a new wave of wireless innovation.” Such white space “has the potential to exceed the billions of dollars in economic benefit from wi-fi, the last significant release of unlicensed spectrum, and drive private investment and job creation,” he said.

The public may participate in the trial by accessing Spectrum Bridge’s TV band database test facility online. The trial of the Spectrum Bridge database system is scheduled to end on Nov. 2, 2011, FCC says.