NAB, MSTV: Unlicensed Devices Could Affect Converter Boxes


Broadcasters told the Bush administration Wednesday that allowing portable unlicensed devices tooperate in the DTV band, as computer companies like Google and Microsoft are pushing for--would be a "monumental mistake" that would have a dramatic negative impact on the transition to digital TV.

That message came in a joint letter from Natoinal Association of Broadcasters President David Rehr and Maximum Service Television President David Donovan to National Telecommunications & Information Administration chief John Kneuer.

NTIA is charged with overseeing the distribution of digital-to-analog converters for analog-only TVsets, and Rehr and Donovan warned that those boxes are likely to be susceptible to the interference the devices could cause.

The FCC has indicated it will allow new wireless devices to operate in the DTV band. It has not saiddefinitively whether those will be licensed or unlicensed, though it has indicated they will likely be unlicensed. It has not weighed in on whether it will allow those unlicensed devices to be portable--like so-called spectrum-sensing PDA's and laptops--which are the ones the broadcasters oppose. But FCC Chairman Kevin Martin has talked of the remote-sensing devices, which seek out vacant spectrum--as one way of more efficiently managing and using that spectrum, which is a key FCC goal.