FCC: Mobile Unlicensed Devices in TV Band Still Couple Years Away

Fixed devices poised to share TV sprectrum following completion of wireless mic database registry
Author:
Publish date:

In presentation at the FCC's public meeting
Thursday, FCC officials suggested sharing of the vacant channels between TV
stations was close to going online, but mobile unlicensed devices, the ones
broadcasters are more concerned about due to possible interference, are still a
couple of years away do to the technological challenges.

Julie
Knapp, chief of the FCC's Office of Engineering and Technology, said that the
commission is currently beta testing the database for registering wireless
microphones -- one of the current licensed TV band users also concerned about
unlicensed interference -- saying that was the last step before the deployment
of fixed a services like broadband to schools, machine-to-machine wireless
communications and some municipal applications.

McDowell
said it would probably be at least a couple of years. That is because the folks
coming up with the chips for those smart mobile devices will need information
that won't be available until the FCC figures out where broadcasters will be
after repacking.

Sharing
and clearing spectrum got a lot of attention at the meeting. The presentation
went beyond what the FCC has already done in the TV band to suggest expanding
that concept to other spectrum bands, particularly to the swaths of spectrum
being used by government agencies, which are also being asked to find real
estate to free up for commercial wireless broadband use.

Knapp
said the President's Council of Advisors on Science & Technology Report due
out this week is expected to recommend spectrum sharing in the government
bands.

Commissioner
Robert McDowell said he hoped the government would relinquish more spectrum,
and said incentives hold some promise. Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel agreed.
Commercial Broadcasters are being offered a share of the revenues from the
spectrum they agree to give up for auction. Saying it might be time for more
carrots rather than sticks, Rosenworcel suggested that incentive of a cut of
the auctions revenues could be extended to the government agencies being asked
to share or relinquish spectrum. They are already getting moving expenses and
money for planning thanks to the incentive auction legislation Rosenworcel was
instrumental in developing while a communications adviser at the Senate
Commerce Committee.

Rosenworcel
said that given the spectrum crunch, the fcc was going to have to innovate,
with more public and private investment in dynamic technology, new network
structures like small cells (femtocells) that she said hold large promise, and
putting incentive and other spectrum auctions on a timetable to speed that
process. In a speech this week, commissioner Ajit Pai said the deadline for
incentive auctions should be June 30, 2014.

Pai
said the government should focus on clearing, rather than sharing, whenever
possible, but also advocates an "all of the above strategy" to
freeing up spectrum.

FCC chairman Julius Genachowski said he agreed with the "all of the above
strategy," adding that he thought he had been the first one to talk about
that very concept "some time ago." (That was one of two points in the
meeting Thursday when the chairman weighed in following a pronouncement by one
of the two new commissioners. In the other, during a presentation on the recent
Derecho storm-related communications failures, Rosenworcel pointed out that she
had called last week for an investigation of those outages. Genachowski
followed that observation during his comments on the report with the repeated
observation that the FCC began investigating those failures almost immediately
after the June 29 storm.)

As
he did in a House Small Business Committee hearing Wednesday, the chairman said
that sharing was crucial to meeting the swelling broadband demand. "Old
ways of unleashing spectrum for broadband are not enough," he said.

Related