The Commission today released an Order conditionally designating 9 companies to be database administrators for white spaces devices. As we wrote in our article describing the FCC's recent decision on reconsideration of its White Spaces order, these administrators will be responsible for maintaining a database of all users of the TV spectrum who must be protected from interference from white spaces devices. Protected entities include TV stations, LPTV stations and TV translators, cable and satellite receive locations, certain wireless microphone users, and the paths between TV stations and translators. Each database must maintain all of this information, so that white spaces devices can determine what channels must be protected in areas in which they are operating.

The conditional nature of the designation reflects the fact that these administrators had requested designation in late 2009, before the recent Order on Reconsideration which adopted the new requirements that all white spaces devices must communicate with these administrators instead of relying on any sort of spectrum sensing. Thus, the FCC is requiring the proposed administrators to update their filings to reflect that they can meet the new requirements for the maintaining the database. One of these new requirements is one of security - so that it can be ensured that the users will have an accurate data base from which to operate, without fear of tampering or other abuses. The FCC will also require that each administrator attend an education session conducted by the FCC, and to go through a rigorous testing period - with tests conducted by the FCC to make sure that the administrator's service will actually provide the necessary information to protect incumbent TV spectrum users from interference from white spaces devices.

The administrators selected by the FCC are: Comsearch; Frequency Finder Inc.; Google; KB Enterprises LLC and LS Telcom; Key Bridge Global LLC: Neustar Inc.; Spectrum Bridge Inc.; Telcordia Technologies; and WSdb LLC. The FCC notes that there may be problems posed for so many administrators to be operating, they hope that competition drives better operations, and also that the experience that these companies get from operating this database can be transferred to future spectrum-sharing arrangements that may be ordered by the FCC.

Television operators should watch this proceeding, and be sure that the information about their operations is correct in each of the databases developed by these companies. The multiplicity of operators may make this task somewhat more cumbersome for TV stations, but it is crucially important given the risks of interference that may arise if all information is not complete and accurate.