05.17.2004 12:00 PM
Commission issues Notice of Proposed Rule Making to allow wireless devices in TV band

Last week, the Federal Communications Commission proposed to allow unlicensed wireless devices for broadband Internet services to operate in spectrum reserved for use by television stations.

If implemented, such wireless devices would only be allowed to use the radio spectrum in locations where the spectrum is not in use for television broadcast. The proposal calls for wireless devices operating in spectrum used by TV stations to incorporate “smart radio” features to identify unused TV channels and guard against interference with television signals.

According to the commission, the Notice of Proposed Rule Making is intended to allow innovation and development of new broadband devices and services for the public and that use of the vacant television spectrum is “particularly well-suited” for such applications, according to an FCC statement.

The vacant channels in the spectrum previously reserved for TV are attractive to developers of wireless Internet devices because of the signal propagation properties of the band. Specifically, transmissions in the television band can travel farther and penetrate buildings better than those on the spectrum currently permitted for wireless broadband service.

“Our overarching goal in this proceeding is to find the most efficient and comprehensive use of the spectrum resource while not interfering with existing services,” said Chairman Michael Powell in a written statement.

“The proposals we adopt today are balanced and take into account the competing needs of all affected spectrum users,” he said. “They ensure the most efficient spectrum use, protect broadcasters and other authorized users in TV bands from harmful interference, and accords appropriate deference to the ongoing DTV transition.”

The commission recognized two categories of unlicensed broadband devices that could be used in TV bands in the notice. The first would be lower power personal/portable unlicensed devices, such as Wi-Fi cards for laptop computers. The second would encompass higher power fixed-access unlicensed devices, such as those used from a fixed location to provide commercial wireless broadband Internet access. The notice proposes different measures to avoid interfering with TV transmission for each category of device.

For more information, please visit: www.fcc.gov.

To watch a streaming media presentation of the commission meeting where the proposal was made visit: www.fcc.gov/realaudio/agendameetings.html. It is the fifth item on the meeting agenda.

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