The FCC’s DTV interference rejection test report released March 30 confirms what the Association for Maximum Service Television has been telling the commission for the past year about the serious risk proposed TV-band devices operating on unoccupied portions of the television spectrum pose to digital television receivers and a smooth DTV transition, said MSTV president David Donovan.
Performed by the Office of Engineering and Technology’s Technical Research Branch Laboratory Division, the tests were designed to help assess how DTV receivers would cope with interference from non-TV use of unused TV spectrum, often called white space use, non-TV use of spectrum adjacent to TV spectrum and other DTV stations. In short, the answer is not well at all.
Several computer industry companies have eyed this TV white space for new RF devices. Lawmakers and policymakers, too, periodically have expressed a desire to use unoccupied TV channels to expand the country’s broadband wireless Internet access. The FCC has established a test bed to evaluate these new devices and technology aimed at preventing interference.
The television industry, retailers and other interested parties have recently come under the Congressional microscope about the status of the DTV transition. Lawmakers have reiterated their desire to see the DTV transition come to a successful completion in February 2009. Much rides on that happening, including billions of dollars filling the U.S. Treasury from the proceeds of spectrum auctions of returned TV channels and the implementation of an interoperable communications system for emergency first responders slated for a slice of the returned spectrum.
Electronic devices operating in the TV band that interfere with DTV stations on adjacent channels could throw a wrench into the sizable on-going effort to make the DTV transition work.
“Consumers are about to spend billions on new digital TVs,” said Donovan. “This report indicates that consumers may not get the benefit of their purchase if these new digital sets start receiving interference from personal and portable unlicensed devices operating on adjacent channels.”