FCC Rocks the 'White Spaces' Vote
The Commission, however, threw in some concessions that look to avoid a raft of interference issues that have been brought up by broadcasters and cable operators. (See Cable Worried About 'White Space' Tech and Red Alert! )
All of the Commissioners agreed that adopting the measure could signal the advent of new wireless broadband services that could aid consumers in both urban and rural areas, but called the approval a "conservative first step" that looks to ensure that licensed services in the TV bands are sufficiently protected.
Portable white space devices (WSDs), for example, will need to tap into a geo-location service to find available TV bands in the same manner as fixed WSDs, which will need to be registered in the database to ensure that unlicensed devices can safely be used in those locations.
FCC Commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate, who voted in favor of the proposal but was also the Commissioner who was most critical of it, called the geo-location services a "critical line of defense." But she noted that the current process of handling complaints of interference, should it occur, is "too vague."
To address the interference issues raised by cable operators, she noted that protections will be included that restrict WSDs from operating where cable headends are designated and located.
The FCC is also calling for a certification and authorization program that includes lab tests to ensure compliance with the agency's rules. Portable devices that use spectrum sensing would also have to adhere to a stricter form of performance testing in the lab and in the field.
Additionally, the Commission will conduct a "Notice of Inquiry" that will weigh the use of high-power WSDs in rural areas.
We'll have much more detail about the proposal, and reaction to its adoption, in an upcoming report.
— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News