Broadcasters attempting to use 2 GHz ENG near Winslow, Ariz., or North Salt Lake, Utah, may find they have company.
The FCC granted Clarity Media Systems an experimental license to operate between 2025-2109 MHz (the band allocated for broadcast auxiliary systems commonly used for electronic news gathering) for “testing equipment to implement a short-range, low-power television service at highway travel plazas.”
The FCC in the past has consistently rejected Clarity’s attempts to use this spectrum at Flying J Truck stops across the country. Clarity, however, has lobbied extensively for free access to this portion of the spectrum, even though other spectrum is available. Some of this is free, while other, more desirable spectrum is only available through FCC spectrum auctions or from auction winners.
Broadcasters fear that Clarity may use a lack of interference at these two isolated truck stops to justify rolling out the service at Flying J truck stops across the country. The service would use the entire ENG band.
If the FCC gives Clarity free access to the spectrum, it will be difficult for it to withhold access to other companies wanting free spectrum to transmit to subscribers. Broadcasters already face challenges getting live news back from isolated locations affected by natural disasters such as fires. Allowing companies such as Clarity to use these frequencies to broadcast video to trucks and recreational vehicles could make such coverage impossible.
As an example of other spectrum available for wireless Internet or even services such as Clarity’s, the list of experimental applications granted from Feb. 1 to May 1 included license grants such as WE2XPP, an experimental license granted to Time Warner Cable to test “new and advanced IP based applications” in the 1920-1980 MHz and 2110-2170 MHz bands in Herndon, Va. Comcast received an experimental license to use 2305-2360 MHz to test mobile WiMAX equipment. W3 Communications received a license to operate in the 3650-3700 MHz band for testing WiMAX equipment in many locations from Arizona and Nevada in the West to Virginia in the East.
See the FCC Office of Engineering and Technology’s list of experimental applications granted from Feb. 1 to May 1 for additional experimental grants, including some using TV bands.
Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.
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