White Space Backers Resist DTV Translator Plan

Major corporate backers of the nascent “white space” technology are warning the FCC that proposed DTV translators—intended to help fill in DTV coverage—might interfere with the as-yet-undeveloped devices destined for use in the unused DTV spectrum.

In a reversal of concerns that the future devices could cause interference to primary incumbent users such as TV broadcasters, Dell, Google and Microsoft urged the commission not to allow DTV translators where they might further inhibit white space device operation.

“Because white space devices cannot transmit within the service contour of a full-power television station even when a viewable signal is not present, replacement translator systems would result in numerous locations where a white space device would result in numerous locations where a white space device would have to avoid two television channels simply to protect a single television signal,” the companies said in an FCC filing Thursday. “Such systems could therefore dramatically reduce or eliminate available white space spectrum, particularly in densely populated areas where the majority of television channels already are occupied.”

The white space companies urge the FCC to limit the new DTV translators only to replace analog dark areas co-extensive with the Grade B analog contour of the underlying full-power station. At least one broadcast engineer has recommended the translators be allowed to extend to areaa 25 percent larger than the underlying Grade B contours.

If expected incoming FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski takes the commission gavel before the translator rules are issued, it could bode well for the white space backers. Google CEO Eric Schmidt was the only corporate executive with a role in candidate Obama's 30-minute campaign informercial, and campaign advisors have talked up the potential of white space technology.