Broadcasters, Pols Signal Opposition to Use of White Spaces

In last week’s RF Report story, Does Microsoft/Philips Testing Really Prove White Space Devices Won’t Interfere?, I noted that neither the FCC’s testing nor white space proponents’ testing considered the impact on mobile/handheld devices using technology such as MPH or A-VSB, which is able to function with signal-to-noise ratios (SNR) near 4 dB.

This week the Open Mobile Video Coalition (OMVC) Board of Directors sent a letter to FCC Chairman Kevin Martin urging the Commission “(1) to include interference to mobile television receivers in the FCC’s testing regimen for determining the interference potential of unlicensed devices; and (2) not to permit unlicensed devices to operate in the DTV spectrum unless there is fully effective protection against interference to the mobile broadcast service from mobile devices.”

The OMVC letter points out that other countries have successfully launched mobile video over digital broadcast services. It also points out that in times of emergency, “In instances where the infrastructure of fixed-line or cell-based services fails, broadcasters will still be able to provide the last line of communication, reaching the public even in conditions that require families to vacate their homes, as was widely the case during 9/11 and Katrina.”

OMVC states, “Local broadcast television stations are prepared to bring this mobile TV revolution to the U.S.” The signatures on the letter include the top management of Fox, NBC Universal, APTS (the Association of Public TV Stations), ION Media, Telemundo, Tribune, Cox, Post Newsweek, Meredith, Media General, Belo, LIN, Sinclair and other OMVC members. See for the complete list.

Lawmakers have started expressing their concern over interference to TV reception. Senate Commerce Committee Member Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Senate Homeland Security Committee Ranking Member Susan Collins (R-ME), and House Science and Technology Committee Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN), who also serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, sent letters expressing concern over the possibility TVWS devices could interfere with TV reception.

Representative Bart Gordon said, “As the Chairman of the House Science and Technology Committee, I support the most efficient use of spectrum. However, I believe this proposal is premature until such time that it can be proven that unlicensed, personal and portable devices will not cause harmful interference to the devices already using the TV spectrum.”

Senator Olympia Snowe states, “With the test results that were compiled, I am deeply concerned about the significant implications that could occur with respect to the DTV transition if the Commission and Congress hastily move forward with any rulemaking or legislation.”

Representative Charles Gonzalez expressed concern about the impact on his constituency, “Hispanic homes are especially sensitive to TV interference as nearly 40 percent of Hispanic households reside in multiple dwelling units, compare with the non-Hispanic U.S. average of 21.7 percent.”

I’m encouraged to see TV viewers getting support from Congress and companies like Motorola presenting technology that, with sufficient testing and protections, might have the potential to provide the wireless Internet people want without taking away their TV. There is no need to rush to approve TVWS devices that have been shown to interfere with TV when better technology is under development.

Doug Lung

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. As vice president of Broadcast Technology for NBCUniversal Local, H. Douglas Lung leads NBC and Telemundo-owned stations’ RF and transmission affairs, including microwave, radars, satellite uplinks, and FCC technical filings. Beginning his career in 1976 at KSCI in Los Angeles, Lung has nearly 50 years of experience in broadcast television engineering. Beginning in 1985, he led the engineering department for what was to become the Telemundo network and station group, assisting in the design, construction and installation of the company’s broadcast and cable facilities. Other projects include work on the launch of Hawaii’s first UHF TV station, the rollout and testing of the ATSC mobile-handheld standard, and software development related to the incentive auction TV spectrum repack. A longtime columnist for TV Technology, Doug is also a regular contributor to IEEE Broadcast Technology. He is the recipient of the 2023 NAB Television Engineering Award. He also received a Tech Leadership Award from TV Tech publisher Future plc in 2021 and is a member of the IEEE Broadcast Technology Society and the Society of Broadcast Engineers.