FCC Moves Forward with Expanded White Space Uses

For years television broadcasters have raised concerns about TV White Space devices.  These unlicensed devices operate on channel 2-35.  The FCC requires that their operation not cause interference to television station operations.

Nonetheless, our interference concerns have been two fold.  First, a white space device operating near a TV set antenna (indoor or outdoor) may cause interference to over-the-air reception.  Second, broadcasters use adjacent channels in the TV band for licensed wireless microphones.  Allowing unlicensed devices on these channels may interfere wireless microphones both in the studio and “on the street.”

For more than a decade those seeking to use TV white space devices have implored the FCC to relax it rules.  The basic policy argument has been that these “white space devices” are needed for rural broadband. We have always been skeptical.  Nonetheless the FCC has issued a proposed rulemaking that would provide “white space proponents (especially Microsoft) with more flexibility.  Specifically the FCC proposes:

  • Permit higher transmit power and higher antenna HAAT for fixed white space devices in “less congested” geographic areas.
  • Propose to permit higher power mobile operation within “geo-fenced” areas.
  • Propose rule revisions designed to facilitate the development of new and innovative narrowband IoT services.
  • Seek comment on methods that could be used to allow higher power operation by white space devices when operating within the service contour of an adjacent channel TV station.

Frankly, this is a very complex engineering issue. It is possible that some of these rules, especially for fixed white space services in less congested areas could be accomplished without causing significant harm to stations.  Nonetheless, we remain skeptical with some of the other proposals.  As with most interference issues the devil is in the engineering details.

To see the FCC Notice of Proposed Rulemaking click HERE.


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