The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved the first device to use white space spectrum today, alongside a database that allows for the safe use of those radio frequencies. In case you're not familiar, white space is a much-fought-over tract of unused spectrum that separates over-the-air TV stations. Due to its low frequency, signals that use white space can travel a little further than Wi-Fi and other radio signals. The spectrum was opened in 2008 for unlicensed use with one condition — instead of being fully programmable, devices that used the spectrum had to consult an authorized database to ensure that it was in an area and using a band that wouldn't cause interference.
Today marks the day that the first such database — created by Spectrum Bridge — has been approved. The first device to use the spectrum is made by Koos Technical Services (KTS), and it's called the Agility White Space Radio (AWR). Originally trialed in the US and Europe last year, it's designed for creating private wireless networks for "surveillance, SCADA, and broadband wireless internet access." It's rated for 3.1Mbps transfer rates, the same as EV-DO Rev. A. The approval is a promising step towards the release of some consumer-grade white space devices, but for now it's a limited affair: the FCC says that while white space will eventually expand nationwide, "initial operation under this approval will be limited to Wilmington, NC and the surrounding area," where the devices were trialed last year.