Broadcasters Urged to Participate in White Space Standards

A broadcast engineering professional society is urging its members and other broadcast interests to get involved in the review of a draft standard for wireless devices intended for use with “white spaces” within the digital broadcast spectrum.

The IEEE Standards Working Group is developing standards for unlicensed device technology that could impact broadcasters’ signals, should the FCC vote to approve the use of wireless devices in broadcast “white spaces.” The IEEE’s Broadcast Technology Society (BTS) has issued a call to its members to join the IEEE Standards Association and enroll in the ballot group to review and comment on a draft standard (P802.22.1), titled "Standard to enhance harmful interference protection for low power devices operating in TV Broadcast Bands."

The use of "white space" VHF and UHF broadcast spectrum for wideband data transmission is being advocated for rural and outer suburban areas. The FCC is scheduled to vote next week on a proposal to allow providers of unlicensed wireless devices to use this portion of the spectrum. Broadcasters are lobbying hard to defeat the proposal, claiming that it could threaten the future of free over-the-air broadcasting.

The standards being developed by the Working Group cover "Wireless Regional Area Networks" (WRANs), and call for such measures as spectrum sensing, a database service, geo-location and cognitive capabilities to reduce the possibility of "collisions" between broadcast signals and unlicensed devices operating within broadcast spectrum.

The proposed standard's sponsors hope that it will influence FCC rulemaking, should the commission approve the creation and operation of WRANs in television broadcast spectrum.

The draft standard describes the use of a radio beacon device for providing enhanced protection to already protected devices such as wireless microphones used in the production and transmission of broadcast programs (covered in FCC Part 74) from harmful interference caused by unlicensed devices that are intended for operation on unoccupied TV channels.

Interested parties must be enrolled as members of the ballot group by Nov. 20, 2008 to participate in the balloting. To enroll, visit