FCC releases white space device rules

The FCC released its new rules Nov. 14 authorizing fixed and personal/portable devices to be used in the TV band on unused channels.

The rules, which were adopted 10 days prior to the release, specify the capabilities these new TV band devices must have and the safeguards they must employ to protect incumbent users of the spectrum, such as TV stations and wireless mic users, from harmful interference.

The rules specify that all devices, except personal/portable devices operating in client mode (under the control of a fixed device or another personal portable device with geolocation and database access capabilities), must include the abilities of identifying their geographic location and accessing an Internet database of protected radio services and channels available for use by the device at its current location.

Personal/portable devices must include spectrum sensing technology to detect the presence of TV and wireless mic transmission; however, for TV broadcasting, the Internet database of occupied and available channels “will be the controlling mechanism,” the rules said.

To protect wireless mics, the rule provide for known locations, such as sports and theater venues, where wireless mics are regularly used to be registered and included in the Internet database of TV spectrum use by geographic area. Additionally, channels 2 through 20 will be restricted to fixed device use, which the commission anticipates will make many of the channels available for wireless mics used on an itinerant basis. In 13 major markets where land mobile operations use channels between 14 and 51, the commission will leave two channels between channels 21 and 51 free of unlicensed devices and available for wireless mics.

The commission provided for fixed devices to operate between channels 2 and 51, but excluded channels 3, 4 and 37. Fixed devices are subject to other restrictions to prevent co-channel operation or operation on channels from which adjacent channel interference would be generated. The commission set a limit of 4W as the effective isotropic radiated power (EIRP) of fixed devices.

The commission rules require all fixed devices to register their locations in the database. They also mandate that an identifier be included in fixed device transmission to make them easier to find in the event of interference.

The rules also make all white space devices subject to equipment certification by the FCC Laboratory. The commission will accept applications for certification of devices that don’t include geolocation and database access but rather rely solely on spectrum sensing. Such devices will be subject to more rigorous testing by the FCC Lab, both in the laboratory and in the field.

For more information, visit www.fcc.gov.