FCC Clears the Way for White Space Devices

White space devices will be here soon. After much debate over the impact of these devices operating on "vacant" TV channels, the requirement for geolocation and control of access to channels using databases should reduce many of the concerns about interference to broadcast TV.

The FCC is taking steps to make sure the system works as planned. The FCC approved Spectrum Bridge Inc.'s TV Bands Database System just before Christmas. The first white space devices will be limited to initial operations in Wilmington, N.C. Other database systems will have to go through a similar process for testing and approval. Spectrum availability may not be an issue in Wilmington, but I expect white space databases will show few channels available in urban markets, especially for higher-power devices.

Broadcast users of wireless microphones need to make sure their wireless microphones are licensed and their area, channels and time of operation registered at one of the FCC-approved white space database administrators.

Doug Lung

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. As vice president of Broadcast Technology for NBCUniversal Local, H. Douglas Lung leads NBC and Telemundo-owned stations’ RF and transmission affairs, including microwave, radars, satellite uplinks, and FCC technical filings. Beginning his career in 1976 at KSCI in Los Angeles, Lung has nearly 50 years of experience in broadcast television engineering. Beginning in 1985, he led the engineering department for what was to become the Telemundo network and station group, assisting in the design, construction and installation of the company’s broadcast and cable facilities. Other projects include work on the launch of Hawaii’s first UHF TV station, the rollout and testing of the ATSC mobile-handheld standard, and software development related to the incentive auction TV spectrum repack. A longtime columnist for TV Technology, Doug is also a regular contributor to IEEE Broadcast Technology. He is the recipient of the 2023 NAB Television Engineering Award. He also received a Tech Leadership Award from TV Tech publisher Future plc in 2021 and is a member of the IEEE Broadcast Technology Society and the Society of Broadcast Engineers.