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Trade groups, networks file emergency request for comments on WSD report

Several trade groups and major broadcast networks filed an emergency request Oct. 17 with the FCC asking it to issue a public notice seeking comment on the use of white space devices in the TV band rather than establishing rules that will permit white space device use.

In the filing, the Association for Maximum Service Television, the National Association of Broadcasters, the Association of Public Television Stations, the ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX networks and the Open Mobile Video Coalition objected to the commission placing an item on the agenda of its November meeting to consider rules for white space device use in TV spectrum.

The filers asked the commission to comply with the Data Quality Act and Office of Management and Budget guidelines that require federal agencies to submit important scientific information to peer review by qualified specialists before being disseminated by the government.

On Oct. 15, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin announced he favored a plan to allow white space devices into TV spectrum with certain conditions. On the same day, the FCC Office of Engineering and Technology released an extensive report detailing the results of its lab and field testing of five prototype white space devices. In the report’s executive summary, the authors stated they “believe that the burden of ‘proof of concept’ has been met” to authorize the use of personal portable devices in the TV band by using spectrum sensing and geolocation.

The emergency request filing pointed out that the commission has an established practice of seeking public comment on studies before issuing rules. After citing multiple examples of the commission seeking public comment on studies, the filing said the process of moving on white space devices stands in stark contrast. According to the filing, “the vote to adopt these rules will occur on Nov. 4, and the sunshine period prohibition will go into effect seven days earlier — meaning that only nine business days will have elapsed before parties are prohibited from even filing an ex parte presentation concerning the OET report.”

Additionally, the conclusions of the OET’s report are unsupported and are “contradicted by the underlying data,” the filing said. Chief among the unsupported conclusions is the assertion that it may be possible to authorize devices employing “spectrum sensing [alone], in the future.”

However, “the massive factual data set” in the report shows “spectrum sensing cannot be used to determine reliably and accurately whether a television channel is occupied or vacant,” the filing said.