FCC Voted Unanimously To Open 'White Spaces' To Unlicensed Mobile Devices

The commission is allowing both fixed devices and mobile ones

The FCC has released the order outlining its decision to allow unlicensed mobile devices to share the DTV spectrum band with TV stations and wireless microphones, subject to various caveats, tests and timetables.

The FCC voted unanimously to open up the so-called "white spaces" in the band to the devices, calling it a "conservative first step."

The commission is allowing both fixed devices (which broadcasters do not oppose) and mobile ones (which broadcasters are concerned about).

The FCC promised in its order to "take whatever actions may be necessary to avoid, and if necessary correct, any interference that may occur." Correcting the interference that may occur only after the fact is cold comfort to broadcasters whose future relies on the digital signals they are transitioning to next February, the same time the FCC will start allowing some types of unlicensed mobile devices to share the spectrum.

Among the safeguards the FCC is putting in place are allowing only devices that also have geolocation capability into the band at first, with a more rigorous testing process for devices that rely on remote sensing only.

That geolocation will be tied to a database of protecxted channels maintained by a third party.

It will also require a commission-level vote to approve remote-sensing-only devices and FCC lab certification of all devices. And before approving those remote sensing devices, the FCC says it will have several opportunities for public input, including on the application, test procedures, and then on the ultimate FCC recommendation.

Portable devices will be limited to 100 milliwatts of power, and 40 milliwatts on adjacent channels. Broadcasters had wanted a 5 milliwatt cap on the channels closest to theirs. the devices must also be able to sense wireless microphones.

Microphones will get additional protections. Veunes--stadiums, theaters--can be registered as protected in the FCC database--and channels 2-20 will be restricted to fixed devices.

For the FCC’s full order, go to http://www.fcc.gov/.


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.'