Sports leagues take stance against use of white space

Major league sports organizations are lobbying members of Congress and the FCC in an attempt to restrict the use of spectrum white space for unlicensed wireless devices.

The FCC has proposed using the slices of spectrum to deploy a new generation of wireless broadband devices. The plan is being backed by a who’s who of consumer electronics manufacturers and computer companies including Intel, Dell, HP, Microsoft and Google.

The Sports Technology Alliance, which includes members from the NFL, NCAA, NBA, MLB, PGA Tour, NASCAR and ESPN, is opposed to the plan. The group is worried that interference from those new radio devices could knock wireless communication systems, like headsets used by coaches and officials and microphones used by players and in-car communications, off the air and prevent wireless microphones from being used to enhance coverage and interview players, coaches and fans.

The group wants Congress and the FCC to not permit the operation of new portable devices in the same spectrum. It also wants the FCC to designate certain spectrum as off limits to new stationary TV band devices, adopt technical solutions to prevent interference at super-scale sporting events, use geolocation to ensure that fixed devices do not cause interference and to thoroughly test any unlicensed wireless consumer devices to ensure they will not cause interference before they are made available to the public.

Broadcasters, including the Association for Maximum Service Television (MSTV), are also opposed to plans for the unlicensed services, claiming they could disrupt the reception of DTV signals.