WABC-TV Files Interference Complaint Against Verizon

NEW YORK and WASHINGTON—WABC-TV, Disney’s flagship ABC station, is asking federal regulators to enforce interference protection measures against Verizon. WABC-TV has filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission claiming Verizon’s 4G transmissions in the 2 GHz band are spilling into the station’s adjacent electronic newsgathering frequencies.

“Around Sept. 1, 2013, WABC first began experiencing increased levels of interference to all of its ENG central receive sites and determined, through tests conducted at the time, that out-of-band emissions from Verizon’s Advanced Wireless Service sites are a principal source of interference to WABC’s ENG operations,” said Kurt Hanson, WABC vice president and director of engineering, in Exhibit A of the complaint.

WABC’s ENG broadcast auxiliary spectrum is just 500 kHz from Verizon’s 2 GHz AWS spectrum. WABC is licensed to operate fixed and mobile ENG pickup stations within a 75-mile radius at 2097.5-2109.5 MHz. Verizon uses 2110-2130 MHz for AWS downlink operations. The wireless carrier acquired the licenses from T-Mobile in October, 2012 and started firing up service in 2013, GigaOm reported. That’s when WABC’s trouble started.

“WABC began experiencing increased levels of interference to all [nine] of its receive sites around Sept. 1, 2013,” wrote Tom W. Davidson of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld LLP in Washington, filing on the broadcaster’s behalf. “WABC immediately alerted Verizon to this condition.”

The station also engaged Vcomm, Verizon’s network consulting firm, to conduct tests, which showed out-of-band emissions, or OOBE, from Verizon sites. Verizon subsequently installed filters at some of its AWS sites, which reduced but did not eliminate OOBE. The station was left with several ENG base stations that were unusable except for the most powerful ENG transmissions.

Frustrated, WABC brought in FCC enforcement agents and the National Association of Broadcasters to observe field measurements. Tests were conducted when AWS operations were running normally and when they were shut down. OOBE was “clearly observed,” when AWS service was on, while WABC ENG central receive sites worked normally when it was off, according to the filing.

FCC rules require AWS licensees operating adjacent to broadcast ENG spectrum to coordinate location of AWS base stations with broadcasters, and to mitigate any interference to ENG. FCC Sec. 27.133:

“AWS operators must protect previously licensed Broadcast Auxiliary Service or Cable Television Radio Service operations inthe adjacent 2025-2110 MHz band. In satisfying this requirement AWSlicensees must, before constructing and operating any base or fixedstation, determine the location and licensee of all BAS or CARSstations authorized in their area of operation, and coordinate theirplanned stations with those licensees. In the event that mutuallysatisfactory coordination agreements cannot be reached, licensees mayseek the assistance of the commission, and the commission may, at itsdiscretion, impose requirements on one or both parties.”

Davidson said Verizon repeatedly failed to notify WABC of the planned location of its base stations as well as when it intends to fire them up—in violation of FCC rules.

“Since September 2013,” Hanson wrote, “I have made repeated attempts to work with Verizon to resolve the OOBE interference, but to date, Verizon has not provided any comprehensive plan or timetable for resolving all interference to WABC’s ENG operations.”

WABC is requesting that the FCC require Verizon to install ENG notch filters at all of its current and planned AWS base stations operating in 2110-2130 MHz, within 36 miles of each of WABC’s fixed ENG sites. If they do not, “ABC respectfully requests that Verizon immediately be required to cease deployment of new AWS LTE sites within WABC’s licensed service area and either cease existing operations or eliminate interference through reduced bandwidth operation at each AWS site that requires filters.”

The complaint was filed March 4, 2015.