What’s next for white spaces after DTV delay?

With the DTV conversion [tabled](http://blog.internetnews.com/kcorbin/2009/02/major-broadcasters-wont-drop-a.html) for four months, the hopes for innovative new uses of wireless spectrum have been pushed back apace.

That means that Verizon Wireless and AT&T will have to put their 4G network build-outs on hold. It also means that the dream of a nationwide, interoperable communications network for first responders and other public-safety personnel will also have to wait.

But what about white spaces? Remember that [great debate](/mobility/article.php/3782836) from last year? The vacant spectrum television spectrum that lies in between broadcast channels, known as white spaces, was set to be available for unlicensed use after the all-digital switchover.

The real effect of the DTV delay on white space devices — not much. The battle that Google and many others fought so hard to win wasn’t going to bring devices to market on Feb. 18 anyway. When the FCC voted in November to open the white space spectrum, it attached conditions to ensure the new devices would not interfere with television broadcasts. (Recall that the most vocal opponent of freeing the white space spectrum was the National Association of Broadcasters.)

But technology companies advocating for the devices as a low-cost path to expanding Internet connectivity are already moving toward their goal.

Earlier this week, unlikely bedfellows Google and Microsoft joined forces with five other technology firms in a coalition to develop a database to oversee the use of white space spectrum per the FCC requirements.

The database is a mandatory precursor to bringing devices to market. Because broadcasters use different areas of the spectrum in different markets (channel 5, 8, 13 etc.), the FCC wants to make sure that mobile devices using white space spectrum don’t interfere with television broadcasts as they travel from one area to another.

“We don’t plan to become a database administrator ourselves, but do want to work with the FCC to make sure that a white spaces database gets up and running,” Google Telecom Counsel Rick Whitt wrote in a [blog post](http://googlepublicpolicy.blogspot.com/2009/02/introducing-white-spaces-database-group.html) announcing the initiative. “We hope that this will unfold in a matter of months, not years.”

Joining Google and Microsoft in the database effort are Dell, HP, Motorola, Commsearch and NeuStar.

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