FCC to Deny NAB Request to Drop White Space Database Administrator

(Image credit: Future)

WASHINGTON—The FCC said this week that it plans to deny a request from the National Association of Broadcasters to reconsider the commission’s intention to nominate a database administrator to manage TV white spaces, the area of RF spectrum between TV channels where the commission allows the use of unlicensed devices (aka “white space devices”).

NAB has accused the administrator in question—Nominet UK (now RED Technologies)—of maintaining a database that includes “numerous errors.” In a 2018 petition to the FCC, the association warned that, although Nominet claimed it had corrected such errors, the commission should not trust the company’s assurances of accuracy. “The commission should not simply take Nominet’s word on this subject given the scope of the problems NAB identified,” they said.

The FCC disagrees with the NAB and will hold a vote on the matter at its Jan. 27 meeting. In a notice filed this week, the commission said it took issue with NAB’s contentions about Nominet and that its actions will help instill confidence to users and manufacturers of white space devices.

"We find that the database errors discovered by NAB, which were immediately corrected by Nominet, are not grounds to revoke the designation of Nominet as a white space database administrator," the commission said. “The actions being taken… will provide additional certainty to white space device users, manufacturers and database administrators to enable unlicensed white space devices to operate efficiently and protect other spectrum users, in particular wireless microphone users.” 

The commission also said it will vote to remove the requirement for white space databases to “push” channel availability to white space devices when a licensed wireless mic operator registers in the white space database to use a TV channel. 

“We remove the push notification requirement and replace it with a simpler rule that requires white space devices operating on broadcast TV channels to re-check the database more frequently.” 

Tom Butts

Tom has covered the broadcast technology market for the past 25 years, including three years handling member communications for the National Association of Broadcasters followed by a year as editor of Video Technology News and DTV Business executive newsletters for Phillips Publishing. In 1999 he launched digitalbroadcasting.com for internet B2B portal Verticalnet. He is also a charter member of the CTA's Academy of Digital TV Pioneers. Since 2001, he has been editor-in-chief of TV Tech (www.tvtech.com), the leading source of news and information on broadcast and related media technology and is a frequent contributor and moderator to the brand’s Tech Leadership events.