Qualcomm's Media May Finally FLO

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At its October 12 meeting, the FCC is scheduled to take up a couple of key spectrum policy issues for broadcasters, including possibly opening the way for a new video service.

The FCC plans to rule on a petition by Qualcomm on interference protections in the 700 mHz band, and the commission will take the first step in an effort to allow unlicensed wireless devices to operate in the broadcast band, subject to testing for possible interference.

Qualcomm has asked for loosened interference standards for its planned MediaFLO operation, a mobile television service that would use vacated broadcast spectrum on channel 55.

Qualcomm was planning on launching the service this fall, but had to push the date back as the company waited for the FCC's decision. Martin supports creative uses of spectrum for advanced services, so Qualcomm could well get its waiver.

The Association for Maximum Service Television (MS TV), broadcaster's, spectrum watchdog, is concerned about loosening interference protections in general given its "hypocratic" approach to spectrum policy: First do no harm.

MSTV has specific concerns about Qualcomm interference to digital and analog TV and similar problems with the unlicensed devices proposal, though it would prefer the FCC tackle the latter issue rather than proposed legislation that would open up the so-called "white spaces" to unlicensed devices.

"The burden of proving no interference should be placed squarely on the proponents of unlicensed devices," says MSTV President David Donovan, and in any event they should not be allowed to operate in the first channels adjacent to those used by TV stations.

The FCC's Office of Engineering & Technology a couple of weeks ago laid out the schedule for considering the white spaces issue, with the Oct. 12 notice of proposed rule making laying out the interference testing schedule the first step in that process.

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