FCC Denies MSTV’s Request for White Spaces Documents
WASHINGTON: The Federal Communications Commission today
denied attempts by the Association for Maximum Service Television to review
documents related to unlicensed devices. MSTV filed a Freedom of Information
Act request with the FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology seeking access
to tests conducted with unlicensed devices in TV white spaces.
Two tests were conducted--one in 2007 and one in 2008--with prototype devices
designed to transmit in unused broadcast TV spectrum. MSTV sought access to a
study related to the 2008 tests, for which the FCC’s peer review committee
issued a report. The commission predicated its decision to allow unlicensed
devices in TV white spaces on the peer report of the 2008 tests.
“MSTV filed a FOIA request seeking the draft Phase II Measurement Report that
was submitted for peer review, and ‘any additional materials to be added to the
OET Report that were sent on or after Sept, 11, 2008’ to named FCC employees.
OET withheld the copy of the draft report submitted to peer review, and 42
e-mails it believed were ‘possibly responsive’ to MSTV’s FOIA request. These
materials were withheld pursuant to FOIA Exemption 511 which exempts from
disclosure predecisional deliberative process material,” the FCC wrote in
MSTV then asked the OET to clarify whether an executive summary and its
conclusions were included in the peer-review process. The OET did not respond,
prompting MSTV to file an application for review with the full commission. It
was that application that was today denied.
“We filed the Freedom of Information Act request because the FCC’s peer review
process was seriously flawed,” MSTV chief David Donovan wrote in 2008. “The
Office of Engineering and Technology’s letter requesting peer review on Sept.
11, 2008 states: ‘We plan to publish the report and invite public comment in
the same manner as the Phase I report.’ Why were these plans abandoned?”
Donovan said the peer review report omitted “the most important finding in the
Phase II Report--that the burden of ‘proof of concept’ had not been met with
respect to spectrum-sensing technology. This purported conclusion is the key to
the FCC’s proposal. It is simply amazing the peer review analysis would not
mention this key finding.”
The commission authorized white-space use in November 2008, marking the first
time radio frequency spectrum was made commercially available on an unlicensed basis.
Microsoft, Dell, HP, Philips and Google were instrumental in gaining access to
the spectrum, previously left unassigned to prevent TV signal interference. Microsoft and Google are among the companies vying to oversee a database of
The commission last November called for proposals to manage the database, which
unlicensed devices would be required to check before transmitting. MSTV’s
Donovan filed ex parte comments on the FCC’s white spaces docket July 30
regarding the database.
“Geolocation/database protection alone is not sufficient to protect against
harmful interference to the public’s broadcast service and, in the case of
licensed microphones used for newsgathering and other valued mobile uses,
geolocation protection is not even possible,” his
states. “Even with retention of sensing as an essential complement to
geolocation/database protections, the white spaces rules need a number of
The FCC memo and order denying MSTV’s request noted it could pursue the
documents in court. MSTV has not yet indicated if it would do so.
-- Deborah D. McAdams
January 4, 2010: “White Space Database
Manager Proposals Due”
The unlicensed devices that will soon operate in unoccupied TV channels
will be required to check the database for where TV stations, BAS operations
and other broadcast entities are using spectrum.
October 12, 2009
: “FCC Grants Microsoft
White Space Licenses”
Microsoft devices had some problems during the FCC TV band device testing
last year. Microsoft now has a license “to conduct research and experimentation
regarding use of the television broadcast bands.” Operation will be fixed and
mobile in Redmond, Wash.
March 2, 2009: “White Space Locator
An online spectrum exchange has launched a Web site for locating white
spaces. Spectrum Bridge created ShowMyWhiteSpace.com, a data base that
combines mapping functions with information on occupied and open TV channels.
September 26, 2008
FedEx Field White-Spaces Test Fails”
In a letter to the FCC Friday, the sports network said tests of prototype
unlicensed devices that would share the digital-TV spectrum used by broadcasters
and wireless microphones showed that "sensing technology cannot be the
foundation for protecting license holders.