FCC Extends Deadline For Filing Unlicensed Devices Comments

The FCC has granted an extension of time for filing comments in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to allow unlicensed operation in the TV broadcast bands at locations where the spectrum is not being used. The original deadline of Sept. 1, 2004 has been extended to Nov. 30, 2004, with reply comments due one month later. The IEEE 802.18 Radio Regulatory Technical Advisory Group requested a 180-day extension, which was supported by MSTV, NAB, CEA, Cadence Design Systems, Harris Corp., the IEEE Broadcast Technology Society, IEEEUSA and several broadcasters. Intel Corp., Kevin Werbach, the New American Foundation and the Media Access Project opposed any extension of the comment period.

IEEE 802.18 said the extension was necessary because the NPRM "raises many complex issues and questions that require further technical studies and discussions among all of the interested parties in order to develop the consensus necessary to provide both the best possible body of comment and the least potential for contention." It also stated that "many interested parties have been working cooperatively with IEEE 802.18 and that it is in the process of forming a new working group to develop standards to enable sharing of the TV bands on a non-interference basis." Without an extension, these interested parties would not have time to complete their cooperative studies and make broad based consensus recommendations to the FCC.

Comments opposing the extension said that 180 days was "extreme and unwarranted" and would have a negative impact on the public interest."

The FCC took the middle ground, noting that, "it is apparent from the comments that parties are working on technical studies and meeting to resolve many of the issues raised in the Notice, and that additional time is needed to abet this process. As there is considerable value in this rule making in detailed technical analysis, and resolution among the parties can shorten the overall duration of the proceeding, we will extend the time for filing comments, and we do not believe that 30 days is sufficient for these purposes. We also find, however, that 180 days would unduly delay the continuation of this significant proceeding. Accordingly, we will provide 90 additional days."

More information is available in the FCC Order Granting Extension of Time (DA 04-2655). For information on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NRPM) on allowing unlicensed devices to use vacant TV channels, see RF Report for June 2, 2004.