Friday, January 8, 2010

Clarifying the FCC authorization process for database managers

After we posted our PN for White Spaces database manager, we’ve had the opportunity to speak with a number of the wireless media about how a white spaces database will work.
(For an overview on TV white spaces and the role of the database manager, see our previous blog post here.)

One question that came up recently had to do with how the white spaces database managers will be authorized, and it revealed a pretty significant misconception about the authorization process the FCC is undertaking. In the case of one reporter, there seemed to be the misunderstanding that the FCC is somehow going to "contract" with one or more companies to run the TV white spaces database and will therefore be funneling business and revenue to them. This is not the case.

Perhaps the confusion comes from trying to relate what the FCC is does to what other agencies do (like the DoD) when awarding "contracts" to private companies. In the case of the DoD they award a specific contact and dollar amount to a company to provide a product or service. In this case, money is being steered to a specific company and there are usually clear winners and losers in the process when taking a monetary point of view.

However, the FCC process for "authorizing" commercial third-party providers of services takes a much different approach and results in an entirely different outcome. Specifically, in the case of TV white spaces database managers, the FCC is authorizing companies to represent themselves as being able to meet the minimum requirements the FCC has set out in its previous Report and Order, as well as some new requirements spelled out in the recent Public Notice.

Once authorized, each of these companies then have to develop their own business model, find their own customers, determine their own pricing and even determine whether they actually want to go into the business of becoming a database manager; they are under no obligation to actually provide this service once authorized. And if more than one company is authorized, each will have to compete for business in the open market.

There are clear advantages to the FCC for authorizing more than one database manager:
  • Increased market competition
  • Lower fees and prices for users
  • Redundant connectivity to physically separated database servers
  • More opportunities for enhanced service from database managers

All of the 9 companies who applied to become database managers (including Spectrum Bridge) seem to agree that the FCC should authorize several managers for these and other reasons. We are indeed pleased to be among such a great group of companies being considered by the FCC.

Rick Rotondo
Spectrum Bridge Inc.

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