Broadcasters Push White Spaces Alternative

Joint filing suggests possible path to DTV citizenship for unlicensed mobile devices under more stringent conditions than FCC proposes

Broadcasters Wednesday reiterated to the FCC that it should hold off on voting on a proposal to approve unlicensed, mobile devices in the DTV spectrum band, then told it what it could do with that extra time.

In a joint filing, broadcasters suggested a possible path to DTV citizenship for the devices, but only under a series of conditions that would protect broadcast signals, wireless microphones, and cable reception, conditions more stringent than FCC Chairman Kevin Martin is proposing.

Those conditions include limiting power levels on the first adjacent channel to 5 milliwatts rather than the FCC's proposed 40 [Fox opposes any adjacent channel uses], a "safe harbor" for wireless microphones, power limits to guard against direct pick-up interference to cable, mandatory geolocation, and disallowing devices that rely only on sensing when spectrum is unused.

The geolocation requirement makes it sort of hybrid mobile and fixed service. Broadcasters do not oppose fixed unlicensed devices.

Facing an FCC that could well approve the devices, broadcasters say their conditions are a compromise the FCC should consider as an alternative. And, in either case, say it must do nothing until it puts its proposal out for public comment.

Broadcasters are particularly concerned with suggestions by think tank the New American Foundation that the end game is to reclaim all of the broadcast channels for advanced services. "Neither Congress nor the Commission has adopted the position that the FCC should administer euthanasia to the public’s over-the-air service," wrote the National Association of Broadcasters, the Association for Maximum Service Television and the major broadcast networks in a supplement to an earlier emergency filing with the FCC. "It is absolutely critical for the Commission to protect the public’s free, over-the-air broadcasting service not just from interference from white spaces devices but from a movement to totally eliminate television broadcasting," they said.


NRB Warns FCC on White Spaces

National Religious Broadcasters: Allowing unlicensed mobile devices to share spectrum band with TV stations, wireless microphones could be 'one of the greatest technical blunders in our nation's history.'