Sennheiser, Microsoft, Jostle for White Space

Microsoft wants three unlicensed channels, Sennheiser is asking for one to be reserved for wireless mics April 19, 2017
WASHINGTON—Both wireless mic and Microsoft folks are staking out claims in the shrinking TV band. Sennheiser’s director of Spectrum Affairs, Joe Ciaudelli, visited the Federal Communications Commission on April 11, urging each of the commissioner’s to “finalize its intent to reserve at least one UHF white-space channel in each market, post-auction repacking.”

Not to be out-lobbied, the Microsoft legal and regulatory team “spoke telephonically with Chairman [Ajit] Pai and Rachel Bender, his acting wireless advisor,” three days later, to chat about its support for network neutrality, its 4,100-miles trans-Atlantic undersea cable project with Facebook, and “allocating sufficient spectrum for unlicensed broadband use in the 600 MHz and TV bands.”

To be clear, white spaces are unoccupied frequencies, while unlicensed spectrum is exactly that—it requires no hefty licensing fees such as the $19.8 billion paid by wireless providers for TV channels 38-51 in the recently completed incentive auction. Neither does unlicensed spectrum have build-out conditions or specific operational requirements outside of non-interference with licensed operators.

Brad Smith, Microsoft’s president and chief legal officer, “discussed the importance of designating at least three unlicensed channels in each market in the 600 MHz and television bands,” for rural broadband as well as ongoing development of white-space technology, which has been commercialized for approximately seven years but has not reached wide deployment. (According to a May 1, 2015 filing submitted by the National Association of Broadcasters, only 600 such devices were operating nationwide five years after FCC authorization.)

Smith said Microsoft and its partners were providing white-space broadband “to the homes of previously unconnected students in rural Southern Virginia. This single project will serve 7,500 primary and secondary school students when the system is fully deployed.”

Before the incentive auction was held, two 6 MHz channels were designated for wireless microphones, which are used in everything from school plays to the Super Bowl, in houses of worship and on Broadway. Auction rules relegated wireless mics to shared buffer zones between wireless up- and downlink bands, as well as vacant TV channels in a given market. The commission subsequently proposed to reserve at least one channel in each market for wireless mics, but no such rule has been finalized.

Generally, advocates of unlicensed spectrum—Microsoft and Google among others—claim there is no need to reserve channels and that white-space technology can play nice with other devices. Wireless mic makers disagree, and the NAB has urged the FCC to clean up the database system devised to prevent interference from white-space devices.

In the ex parte filing describing his meeting with the commissioners, Ciaudelli said, “The duplex gap and the guard band are not reliable enough to operate mission critical microphones. Licensed (FCC Part 74) professional production engineers require clean UHF in their spectrum ‘toolbox’ for their hyper-critical wireless microphones. The reserved white-space channel will be a vital tool, provided it can be reliably reserved by professionals in the database system for interference protection from unlicensed devices.”

Ciaudelli also filed a fact sheet for owners and operators of wireless mics, who will have to retool and/or replace microphones tuned to the repurposed frequencies between 614 and 698 MHz.

“About half of existing UHF wireless microphone equipment will likely be rendered obsolete, or will require modification—if allowed; a decision from the FCC is pending,” it stated.

Also see…
Feb. 22, 2017

FCC OK’s First Unlicensed LTE in 5 GHz
The FCC this morning announced that it had “just authorized the first LTE-U—LTE for unlicensed—devices in the 5 GHz band.” This was according to a tweet from @FCC on Twitter, and soon after, a rare blog post from Julius Knapp, chief of the FCC Office of Engineering & Technology.

Nov. 21, 2016
NAB Urges FCC to Act on White Space Geolocation
The problem, according to the NAB, is that the FCC’s database system for keeping track of white-space devices doesn’t work, so in the event these devices cause interference to TV signals, broadcasters won’t be able to track them down.

Aug. 12, 2015
Where Wireless Mics Go Next
The move leaves wireless mics without dedicated spectrum for the first time. The FCC tried to mitigate the impact by loosening up the rules for operations.

July 22, 2015
NAB and White Space Device Makers Agree on Geolocation
“NAB and the TV band device manufacturers recommend that all TV band devices incorporate automatic geolocation capability or be under the control of a device that includes that capability,” the parties wrote in a joint letter to Julius Knapp, chief of the Federal Communications Commission’s Office of Engineering and Technology.

June 24, 2015
Wireless Mic Squeeze: Q&A With Sennheiser’s Joe Ciaudelli
White-space device deployment to date has been limited to a few hundred fixed devices. No personal portable white-space devices have been introduced. If they are, it is unrealistic to believe that consumers using them would proactively prevent interference in the same manner as wireless microphone operators do with their gear.

June 15, 2015
Unlicensed 3.5 GHz LTE Explored
Regulators are trying to circumvent potential problems with LTE-U, a version of the cellular transmission standard intended for unlicensed use.

May 29, 2015
FCC Proposal Creates White-Space Divide

May 4, 2015
NAB to FCC: TV Licensees Should Trump White Space Devices

March 19, 2015
NAB Petitions FCC to Shut Down White Space Database

March 19, 2015
Google White Space Database Registered Fixed Devices

January 15, 2014
FCC Certifies Carlson Wireless TV White Space Radio

November 14, 2013
FCC Certifies Adaptrum Technology With Google TV White Space Database

September 16, 2013
FCC Grants Adjacent-Channel Waiver for Meld White Space Device

March 4, 2013
White Space Databases Go Live Nationwide

January 23, 2013
Tokyo Group Unveils Regional TV White Space Prototype

December 6, 2012
White Space Databases to Go Live Next Month

October 18, 2012
White Space Wi-Fi Draft Standard Prototype Developed

June 4, 2012
Theater and Sports Groups Drop Request for White Space Rules Review

May 3, 2012
NAB Drops Court Challenge of White Spaces

March 27, 2012
Telcordia Gets Cleared to Manage White Spaces

February 29, 2012
Key Bridge Launches Preliminary White Space Portal

November 24, 2008
White Spaces Deal is Done

January 31, 2012
White Spaces: Telcordia Says It Can Find Them

December 5, 2011
FCC To Commence Second White Space Database Trial Wednesday

November 10, 2011
FCC Seeks Comment on Spectrum Bridge White Space Trial

September 14, 2011
Spectrum Bridge Is First of 10 To Test White Space Database

July 27, 2011
IEEE Publishes White Space Standard for Broadband

June 29, 2011
Microsoft White Space Partner Neul Raises $12.8 Million

June 27, 2011
Microsoft Angles for Lighter U.S. White Space Rules with U.K. Trial

June 22, 2011
Microsoft Nudges FCC to Wrap White Spaces

May 2, 2011
Microsoft Wants to Manage TV White Spaces

January 27, 2011
TV White Space Database Managers Named

December 6, 2010
White Space Rules Go Into Effect Jan. 5, 2011

September 27, 2010
SPECIAL REPORT: FCC White Space Rules

September 27, 2010
Nine Vie to Manage White Space Database

September 23, 2010
FCC Eliminates Spectrum Sensing for White Space Devices

September 16, 2010
Carlin Could Curse in TV White Spaces

September 15, 2010
Ohio Hospital Launches White Space Broadband Trial

September 8, 2010
FCC to Issue Second White Spaces Order

August 18, 2010
Broadcasters Urge FCC to Retain White Space Spectrum-Sensing Requirement

August 2, 2010
FCC Denies MSTV’s Request for White Spaces Documents

June 23, 2010
Google Supports White Space Smart Grid Trial

April 22, 2010
Wireless Group Asks FCC to Relax White Space Rules

April 21, 2010
Input Sought for White Spaces Book

March 26, 2010
TV White Space Experimental Licenses Granted

February 24, 2010
Wilmington Tests WiFi in White Spaces

January 4, 2010
White Space Database Manager Proposals Due

November 18, 2009
British Regulator Open White Spaces

October 22, 2009
Virginia Town Exemplifies White Space Usage

October 12, 2009
FCC Grants Microsoft White Space Licenses

March 3, 2009
Broadcasters Asks Court to Nix FCC White Space Order

February 23, 2009
White Space Locater Launched

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