FCC to Consider Unlicensed Operation in TV Broadcast Bands

At the Federal Communications Commission Open Meeting on Thursday, May 13, the commissioners will consider a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking concerning unlicensed operation in the TV broadcast bands. Refer to the Notice of Inquiry in ET Docket 02-380, Additional Spectrum for Unlicensed Devices Below 900 MHz and in the 3 GHz Band for additional information on this proceeding.

The NOI stated, "The unused portions of the TV spectrum appear to be a suitable choice for expanded unlicensed operation for several reasons. Unlicensed use of this spectrum as opposed to licensed use appears to be appropriate because the operating power levels of unlicensed devices are generally lower than the power levels used in commercial mobile radio services, making it easier for unlicensed devices to identify and operate on unused frequencies without causing interference to authorized services. Further, the frequencies and amount of unused TV spectrum vary from location to location and could change over time as TV stations or other authorized services are added or change frequency, potentially complicating the licensing of commercial services in unused TV spectrum."

The Notice of Inquiry raised questions about how unlicensed devices could be prevented from interfering with TV broadcasting. It suggested GPS receivers and a database could be used to determine what channels were being used in a certain area and avoid them. It asked, "how could the Commission enforce any rules that may be adopted for unlicensed devices to ensure that such devices do not cause interference to authorized users of the TV bands?"

For details on other items to be discussed at the Open Meeting and for instructions on how to listen to the meeting on the Internet, see the Public Notice FCC to Hold Open Commission Meeting Thursday, May 13, 2004.