FCC Begins Receiver Specs Inquiry

The FCC is exploring how to nudge receiver technology forward, seeking comment on immunity performance specifications.

"Incorporation of receiver performance specifications could serve to promote more efficient utilization of the spectrum and create opportunities for new and additional use of radio communications by the American public," the commission said in a release, adding that it does not now intend to subject all receivers to mandatory standards.

In a broad inquiry recommended by its Spectrum Policy Task Force, the commission said at its March meeting that the future specs "could be in the form of incentives, guidelines or regulatory requirements" within or across bands and services.

CEA has opposed receiver regulations, calling their implementation in the DTV a solution in search of a problem.

"The problem with digital reception today has nothing to do with receiver capabilities and everything to do with the low power that some broadcasters are using for their digital signals," CEA told the FCC March 7.

Sinclair Broadcasting Group has led the call for DTV receiver standards, noting that a mandate for the receivers that many viewers would never use was a recipe for lousy receivers, if there were no performance standards.

"Nowhere is the Commission's 'transmitter-centric' policy more obvious than in the Commission's rules governing DTV," Sinclair said in a filing.

The FCC seeks comment on immunity performance and interference tolerance of existing receivers, possibilities for improving the level of receiver immunity in the various radio services and potential impacts of standard on innovation.

"Our objective is to gather information on the technological landscape-what is the state-of-the-art in receiver technology and what is deployed in the field," FCC Chairman Michael Powell said. "Without baselines, there can be no benchmarks. In developing these baselines, I prefer to rely on market incentives and voluntary industry programs to establish receiver immunity guidelines in the first instance. Such guidelines will promote more efficient use of the radio spectrum, increasing opportunities for innovation and the delivery of new services to the American public."