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FCC approves Google's TVWS database for use, bringing whitespace broadband one step closer

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Google White Space TV Spectrum map
Google White Space TV Spectrum map

Two months after Google got permission to test its TV whitespace (TVWS) database from the FCC, the Commission is approving it for operation. Which whitespace channels are available for use depend on the region in question, and registered wireless devices will be able to use the database to automatically determine the frequencies they can transmit on after feeding it their encrypted location information. Individuals and organizations can also browse the database to see which bands are available for use in their area.

Google has pushed unlicensed TVWS for years as a cost-effective way to bring broadband service to sparsely populated rural communities whose economics don’t justify building out traditional cable or fiber lines. It initially got permision to start testing the database back in March and concluded a month later, in April. Competitor Key Bridge Global wrapped up its own database trial in April, but so far hasn’t received FCC approval to put it in action.

TVWS is still an emerging technology, but it’s finally moving out of the experimentation phase and into real applications. Back in April, California ISP Cal.Net launched the nation’s first consumer white space broadband service, bringing 2–4Mbps internet to residents of the state’s hilly Gold Country region.