First white space database and end-user devices to begin operation in January in Wilmington, NC.

The FCC has approved the first “white space” database and the first end-user devices to begin operation on January 26, 2012, initially limited to the Wilmington, NC area.

White space devices are supposed to provide Wi-Fi-like services, only better, using locally vacant TV channels. Successful operation will depend on complex databases to help each device identify channels on which it can safely operate, without causing interference to TV stations, radio astronomy, wireless microphones, and several other services entitled to protection. We reported just last month that the first of ten FCC-approved database providers, Spectrum Bridge Inc., had posted the results from a 45-day test of its system. The FCC has now announced its acceptance of that system, and simultaneously, its approval of an end-user white space device that operates in conjunction with the Spectrum Bridge database.

Operators of the various services protected against the devices – see a list here – should make sure their facilities are properly listed in the database.

White space operations will be limited at the outset to the environs of Wilmington, NC. Wilmington was also the city chosen by the FCC a few years back for an early trial of the cut-over from analog to digital TV. We’re not sure why the FCC keeps putting Wilmington’s TV reception at risk. Perhaps the city is an unheralded center for high-tech early adopters. Or the home of someone whom the FCC just doesn’t like.