NAB to FCC: Dynamic 3.5 GHz Database Plan Flawed

WASHINGTON—The NAB has warned the FCC about using its flawed white spaces database to attempt to protect against interference in the 3.5 GHz band.

The FCC plans to vote next week on a framework for opening up 150 MHz of spectrum in that band for wireless broadband use, just as it did with the so-called “white spaces” in the broadcast band.

NAB last month asked the FCC to suspend use of the database, citing “serious design flaws,” including allowing inaccurate information like fake serial numbers or false contact information. NAB said it also found that a third of the devices in the database listed erroneous, sometimes “wildly inaccurate” information.

In a letter to the FCC April 10, NAB auction point person Rick Kaplan said that while it supports innovative uses of spectrum including unlicensed operations and spectrum sharing, using the same dynamic access approach, which depends on an accurate database to identify licensed users, is “clearly not sustainable.”

“The FCC’s current spectrum database system does not prevent users from entering false information in the TVWS database. The database incorporates no checks to ensure that users enter correct information, or even that they enter any information in all required fields,” Kaplan wrote. “Expanding it at this point, prior to making any fundamental changes, is highly problematic.”

Kaplan gave the FCC staff credit for working on clearing up the database errors NAB discovered in its analysis of the white spaces database. But he said the problems were systemic and that until the FCC upgrades the database to include a geolocation requirement and database administrators are held accountable for “patently false entries,” the system will not work.