FCC begins trial of Google white spaces database

The 45-day test run will check on the accuracy and functionality of the spectrum database

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission has begun a test run of a Google database of unused spectrum in the television bands that's available for wireless broadband.

The FCC on Monday kicked off a 45-day trial of Google's so-called white spaces spectrum database. The database is designed to track what unused, or white spaces, spectrum is available for new Wi-Fi-like uses.

Google is one of 10 companies asking the FCC to certify them as database administrators for the TV white spaces. The FCC approved Spectrum Bridge as the first white spaces database provider in December 2011.

Participants in the Google trial are encouraged to test the database's channel availability calculator, the wireless microphone registration utility and other functionality, the FCC said in a public notice last week. Participants should report any inaccuracies in the database to Google, the FCC said.

After the trial, Google will issue a report to the FCC, and the FCC will allow a public comment period before the agency acts on Google's application for certification, the agency said.

The white spaces can help ease a coming shortage of spectrum, Alan Norman, Google's principal for access, wrote in a blog post.

"There is available spectrum out there -- but it can be hard to find if you don't know where to look," Norman wrote. "One way we're trying to help researchers and other stakeholders identify available spectrum is through dynamic spectrum sharing. Spectrum sharing allows devices to use spectrum when it is not in use by someone else simply by checking a database."

The trial will "bring us all one step closer to freeing up more spectrum, which in turn will help the industry bring new wireless technologies to market and enable people to get wireless Internet access when and where they need it," he added.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is grant_gross@idg.com.

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Tags telecommunicationregulationsmartphonesU.S. Federal Communications CommissionmobilegovernmentAlan NormanSpectrum Bridge4gconsumer electronicsGoogle

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