Google database for tracking unused spectrum enters 45-day public trial with the FCC

Google database for tracking unused spectrum enters 45-day public trial with the FCC

An online database built by, the technology giant’s charitable division, to track unused TV white space spectrum has been approved for a 45-day public trial by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Electromagnetic spectrum is fast becoming a limited resource as billions of people try to access the Internet on their smartphone, tablet, laptop or PC. Parts of the existing radio spectrum are unused though, or could be used to better effect. The problem has always been keeping track of where these pockets are though, and relaying this information to the public or providers whose services would benefit from redistribution.

Google wants to promote dynamic spectrum sharing, which would allow another party to take advantage of some spectrum when it’s not being actively used by the owner. The new database, therefore, would allow regulators and industry stakeholders to oversee the amount of spectrum not in use and ensure it’s reallocated when appropriate.

To become certified as a TV White Spaces Database Administrator though, Google is entering a 45-day trial with the FCC starting today.

Anyone who signs up during this period will able to see the TV white spaces spectrum that is available in their location as of January 29, 2013. Google says that once the database is certified with the FCC, registered devices will able to check the database automatically and identify what spectrum is available in the nearby area.


That means Internet service providers – and perhaps even members of the public – will be able to take advantage of unused spectrum on the fly, improving the chances of finding a stronger and faster connection.

Google isn’t the only one trying to address the spectrum problem though. Earlier this year Microsoft gave an update on its spectrum observatory in Brussels, which is also examining how the existing radio spectrum can be better managed.

It follows a similar setup in Redmond and Washington that can track and analyze spectrum usage to determine where expansion plans should occur next.

Image Credit: Adam Berry/Getty Images

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