Television stations often operate on the same or adjacent channels. However, to avoid interference between each other, television stations are often operated in geographically separate areas. Further, there are areas of the country where, because of population density, not all television channels are utilized. This unused spectrum between TV stations -- called white spaces -- represents a valuable opportunity for our changing wireless mobile landscape. This block of spectrum is ripe for innovation and experimental use, holding rich potential for expanding broadband capacity and improving access for many users, and for developing technologies that can expand this type of spectrum access to other frequencies and services in order to greatly increase our ability to utilize spectrum. The FCC is moving forward with plans and is actively working to unlock this spectrum in order to maximize white spaces’ value for consumers and businesses. In 2010, the Commission adopted final rules to allow unlicensed radio transmitters to operate in the white spaces. This action made a significant amount of spectrum available for new and innovative products and services, such as wi-fi. These rules provide for the following:
- Both fixed and personal/portable devices can operate in the white spaces in the TV bands on an unlicensed basis.
- The primary method of preventing interference to TV and other services is a geo-location capability of the white spaces devices combined with database access to identify vacant TV channels at specific locations. The databases are established and administered by parties selected by the Commission.
- Locations where licensed wireless microphones are used and the sites of event venues where large numbers of unlicensed microphones are authorized can be registered in the database and will be protected. In addition, two channels (subject to availability) will be kept free of unlicensed devices at any given location to provide for wireless microphones to operate with no registration requirement.
- Further, the rules provide for registration of the receive sites of multiple video distribution systems (MVPDs) and low power TV stations and of temporary broadcast auxiliary fixed links to provide those facilities protection from interference from TV white space devices.
The Commission continues to look at other innovative approaches to enable additional white space opportunities in other frequency bands.
List of White Space related Orders and NPRMs
- Order Granting Requests for Waiver of Section 15.712(b)
Released Date: 06/01/2012
Description: Granted in part and denied in part the requests for waiver
- Third Memorandum Opinion and Order
Released Date: 04/05/2012
Description: Addressed five petitions for reconsideration of decisions in the Second Memorandum Opinion and Order in this proceeding and modified the rules in certain respects. by 3rd MO&O
- Approval for Telcordia Technology’s TV Bands Database System
Released Date: 03/26/2012
Description: Granted Telcordia the approval to operate its database system to provide service to certified unlicensed devices that operate in the broadcast television bands, with conditions
- Approval for Spectrum Bridge’s TV Bands Database System
Released Date: 12/22/2011
Description: Granted Spectrum Bridge, Inc. approval to operate its "TV bands database system" to provide service to the public on or after January 26, 2012
- Order Designating Microsoft Corporation as a TV Bands Database Administrator
Released Date: 07/29/2011
Description: Designated Microsoft Corporation as a TV bands database administrator pursuant to Section 15.715 of the rules, with conditions
- Order Designating Nine Parties as TV Bands Database Administrators
Released Date: 01/26/2011
Description: Designated TV Bands Device Database Administrators
- Second Memorandum Opinion and Order
Released Date: 09/23/2010
Description: FCC Frees Up Vacant TV Airwaves for "Super WI-FI" Technologies
- Second Report and Order and Memorandum Opinion and Order
Released Date: 11/14/2008
Description: FCC Adopted Rules For Unlicensed Use of Television White Spaces
- First Report and Order and Further NPRM
Released Date: 10/18/2006
Description: The FCC takes steps to allow new low power devices on vacant TV channels. by First Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Final rule -71 FR 66876, FR Date: 11/17/2007 (Effective date: (12/18/2006)
- Notice of Proposed Rule Making
Released Date: 05/25/2004
Description: Proposed and sought comment to allow unlicensed radio transmitters to operate in the broadcast television spectrum at locations where that spectrum is not being used
- Notice of Inquiry
Released Date: 12/20/2002
Description: Initiated this inquiry to obtain comments from the public on the possibility of permitting unlicensed devices to operate in additional frequency bands