FCC to Issue Second White Spaces Order
September 8, 2010
WASHIGNTON: The Federal Communications Commission will
consider a second Memorandum Opinion and Order on white spaces at its regular
monthly meeting Sept. 23. The order will finalize provisions for
unlicensed wireless devices operating in unoccupied swaths of TV spectrum, aka white spaces.
One provision at issue is a requirement that unlicensed devices have
spectrum-sensing technology for sniffing out unused frequencies. The
Association for Maximum Service Television and the National Association of
Broadcasters have lobbied hard to maintain the requirement.
“Spectrum sensing is a critical means of protecting against interference to the
public’s broadcast services by unlicensed devices,” the NAB and MSTV said in a
ex parte filing with the FCC
dated Sept. 3. “And spectrum sensing is the only mechanism that can protect
against interference to itinerant licensed wireless microphones used for
critical newsgathering purposes.”
The FCC opened up broadcast white spaces to unlicensed devices last year when
the digital TV transition ended. The frequencies were referred to as “taboo
channels” during analog broadcasting because of the potential for
adjacent-channel interference among TV stations. Digital transmission was
thought to reduce the risk of interference, though DTV expert Charles Rhodes
has reproduced co- and adjacent-channel interference in his Pacific Northwest
The broadcast industry has fought hard for assurances that unlicensed devices won’t interfere with TV signals because of the difficulty in tracking them. The
FCC’s second memo and order will determine whether the devices are required to
have spectrum-sensing technology in conjunction with the capability to check a
geolocation database for open frequencies.
MSTV and the NAB’s filing mentioned “parallels” between the debate on TV white
spaces and the 5 GHz band, where unlicensed devices caused interference with
aeronautical radar. The FCC beefed up its protective requirements after the
fact--something the two groups said would be unlikely with the TV white-space
“MSTV and NAB pointed out the virtual impossibility of imposing an ex post
solution in the TV band white spaces, where there could be hundreds of
thousands or even millions of unlicensed devices released on the market
nationwide that may interfere with tens of millions of television receivers
The FCC is in the process of selecting an administrator for the geolocation
database, for which the broadcast lobbies urged tight rules.
“The selection of a database administrator and the policies pursued in the
administration of the database will influence the efficacy of the interference
protections provided,” they said.
ex parte filing
from the NAB and MSTV summarized a Sept. 2 meeting between David Donovan and
Bruce Franca of MSTV; Ann Bobeck, Kelly Williams and Lynn Claudy of the NAB;
Jennifer Johnson of Coverington & Burling LLP and Angela Giancarlo of
Commissioner Robert McDowell’s office.
-- Deborah D. McAdams