FCC Election Day Meeting Agenda Includes White Spaces and Distributed Transmission

The FCC meeting agenda for its Open Commission Meeting on Election Day, Nov. 4, lists two items of interest to broadcasters: a Second Report and Order and Memorandum Opinion and Order addressing television "white space" unlicensed operation in the TV broadcast bands and an Order adopting rules for the use of distributed transmission system (DTS) technologies in the DTV service.

DTV distributed transmissions systems are currently authorized under special temporary authority. The Order adopted at the Nov. 4 meeting should provide rules for building and operating a licensed DTS. DTS technology will provide a way for stations to resolve DTV coverage problems caused by terrain shielding, channel changes and transmitter site changes.

One example where DTS could solve DTV reception problems is in rural areas outside Wilmington, N.C.

Wilmington television broadcaster WECT moved its DTV transmitter site closer to the city to improve reception in its community of license, but many rural viewers lost NBC programming when the station shut off its analog transmitter.

DTS will also be required to provide ATSC mobile/handheld services in areas shadowed by terrain or buildings. Cable or satellite services can provide fixed TV reception but that is not an option for mobile/handheld/portable devices!

It will be interesting to see how the FCC resolves the technical issues raised in the FCC report on white space devices released this week. A careful reading of the report shows many problems. The field tests also revealed situations where the devices caused interference to cable TV reception. There are no "white spaces" on cable TV.