FCC Poised to Increase TV White Space Device Power – Agrees to Buffers to Protect TV Stations

In 2008, the FCC authorized unlicensed devices to operate in the TV band (channel 2-35).  These unlicensed devices include both fixed (Wireless Internet Service Providers) as well as mobile devices.  Suffice it to say there has been little deployment of these devices. For years, Microsoft argued that more power was needed to expand rural broadband opportunities.  We have been highly skeptical of these claims.  Television broadcasters have been concerned about interference to over-the-air TV reception and licensed wireless microphones.  The engineering battle has lasted for years.

Over the last few months an agreement has been reached that will protect TV broadcasters while at the same time allow TV white space devices to increase power, especially in less congested areas.  This agreement is reflected in the FCC’s proposed rules which will be enacted at its October 27th meeting.  The FCC order would:

  • Increase the maximum permissible power for fixed white space devices operating in “less congested” areas (generally rural and unserved areas) in the TV bands from 10 watts to 16 watts EIRP.
  • Double from 250 meters to 500 meters the maximum permissible antenna height above average terrain for fixed white space devices in “less congested” areas, subject to a coordination procedure with TV broadcasters.
  • Eliminate the limit on antenna height above ground in most circumstances.
  • Increase the minimum required separation distances from protected services and protected entities in the TV bands (e.g., TV stations, cable headends, translator receive sites, land mobile radio service, licensed wireless microphones) for white space devices operating with higher power and height above average terrain.
  • Allow higher power mobile operations in “less congested” areas within defined “geo-fenced” areas. Mobile device manufacturers and operators will have the flexibility to work with white space database administrators to specify how the boundaries of a geo-fenced area are stored within databases and devices, subject to the requirement that mobile devices include geo-location capability.
  • Provide flexibility for new and innovative narrowband white space devices to operate in the band so that users can more fully benefit from Internet of Things applications.

The engineering protections for TV stations in the FCC decision we hard fought.  At this point, the FCC declined to allow high power operation by white space devices operating within the service contour of an adjacent channel TV station. Congratulations to the NAB team representing us before the Commission.

To see the FCC proposed Report and Order click HERE.


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