Tools For The Public To Find Free and Open TV Channels
A new website has been launched as of this writing, Feb. 24, that promises Internet users to find all the open TV channels that are available in their regions for use by unlicensed mobile devices.
Last fall, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) authorized the use of the white spaces between TV channels for mobile broadband, radios and other spectrum-sensing devices, though it did so over the protestations of broadcasters who argue those devices can interfere with their beautiful new DTV pictures.
White spaces are the unused slivers of spectrum in the 700MHz band that sit between broadcast TV channels.
Spectrum Bridge, Inc., is the founding company of this new website. Its seeded development funds come from the FCC. Spectrum Bridge is also allowed to collect its information from the FCC in a nightly update of the commission's databases.
The new website, ShowMyWhiteSpace.com uses the technology and backbone of SpecEx.com for identifying spectrum that the FCC has allowed for trading in a secondary market. Further, the transition to digital TV on June 12th will also free up a large amount of wireless frequencies that can be used by the public, for free.
The following is an excerpt from the site that further explains the usage of TV White Spaces:
In 2004 the FCC began a proceeding to determine the feasibility, rules and regulations of allowing wireless devices to operate in unused TV broadcast channels. These unused channels got the nickname “TV white space”. In the latter part of 2006, the FCC approved white space for use by fixed broadband devices. Portable devices and use approval would have to wait until the FCC completed extensive inference testing of portable devices in 2008. This testing determined that by using a combination of spectrum sensing technology and an internet-based geo-location database of “safe channels” for these devices, portables would not interfere with TV station broadcasts or other protected users in the TV band.
After a 6 year battle between technology, wireless and TV broadcast groups, the FCC finally rendered a decision this past November to make White Space bands “unlicensed”, and the industry is now embarking on creating hardware and applications.
Amid all the hype – and the FCC’s rules – however, is a reality that challenges White Space as manna from heaven. We take a practical look at the requirements and their implications on White Space networks in an unlicensed framework.
The showmywhitespace.com website has several features for users to locate these White Channels anywhere in the United States. Access to these soon-to-be available frequencies depends largely on available open channels in the area, or region of the country. Users can use two options to find their open channels.
Search By Address, or Search By Coordinates. There is a cool Interactive Map that will direct users to the Specex.com parent site.
A quick test-search by using a random street address in New York yields only two open channels that can potentially be used by TVBD out of 51 channels. New York has an enormously high volume of licensed TV stations, or other licensed owners, which blocks all 49 channels in this test-search.
It is apparent that those users who live outside of large urban cities will have a better access to a high number of open channels than those who live New York City. Access to the new TV white spaces will be particularly useful to those who live in the rural and unserved communities in the United States. The Center for Rural Strategies has recently partnered with the newly created Wireless Innovation Alliance.
In the long run, this website can also be used by TV stations to check whether or not the FCC has correctly recorded TV coverage area.
It is too early to tell how the public will respond to the latest access to TV White Space channels. In the meantime, Google, Comsearch, Dell, HP. Microsoft, Motorola, and Neustar have already seized the opportunity by forming a new coalition called, the White Spaces Database Group, which will provide and compile into a database technical specifications for devices that will use white space spectrum.
Most Recommended Comment
New York, New York, United States