FCC seeks "white space" database proposals

altA year ago, the FCC established rules to allow new, unlicensed wireless devices to operate in fallow broadcast TV airwaves, known as "white spaces." The rules were intended to enable those devices to provide a new source of broadband services for consumers and businesses.

Tech companies including Google, Microsoft, Dell and HP had been lobbying the FCC to establish the rules, and they have been developing devices that are able detect and avoid airwaves in use by broadcasters in order to avoid interference. For the devices to work, they need access to a database that shows which airwaves are used by TV stations in every market.

Broadcasters, however, weren't happy that the FCC gave the go-ahead for this newfangled technology, which they fear will interfere with their bread-and-butter broadcasts.

The FCC decided to designate at least one database administrator from the private sector to create and maintain the database. The administrators will be able to charge fees to register new devices and provide lists of available channels for them. But there has been some disagreement on how many administrators should exist.

Today, the FCC invited companies or groups who want to be administrators to file proposals by Jan. 4. Comments on those proposals will be due Feb. 3.

Look for more updates on the white spaces issue next week.