Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Microsoft Joins the TV White Space Race

The Federal Communications Commission has just conditionally designated Microsoft Corporation as a TV bands database administrator. The Order states that “Microsoft is the tenth entity designated to develop a database that will enable the introduction of this new class of unlicensed broadband wireless devices in the TV spectrum.” The announcement comes as a surprise to some industry stakeholders and excitement to others. We at Spectrum Bridge welcome Microsoft to help further solidify the use of unlicensed spectrum to spur new innovation and technologies.

In addition to Microsoft becoming a database administrator, the IEEE, an association dedicated to advancing technological innovation and excellence for the benefit of humanity, has recently completed the 802.22™ standard for wireless regional area networks in TV white spaces. According to the press release, “IEEE 802.22 systems will provide broadband access to wide regional areas around the world and bring reliable and secure high-speed communications to under-served and un-served communities.”

The completion of TV white space standards and the addition of a tenth database administrator strongly indicate that the FCC is fully committed to enhancing the unlicensed wireless industry and ecosystem moving forward. The database administrators are not only tasked with ensuring protection to incumbent users, but spurring innovation where database technology did not previously exist. As referenced in many industry white papers, 90-95 percent of spectrum sites idle at any given time. If this database approach model is adopted in additional frequency bands, it may very well help alleviate some of the current spectrum crisis issues at hand.

All of the database administrators are anxiously awaiting the completion of the certification process and trial period that ensues. Once the certification process is completed, commercial products will then be made available to support many of the unserved and underserved communities in America with rural broadband and other applications. There are endless possibilities beyond the TV white spaces and Spectrum Bridge is very excited for the future of database managed wireless technology. For a preview of future technology to come, see the examples of use cases developed by our Universal Spectrum Access technology model.

- Andrew Pielack, Communications Coordinator