FCC Rocks the 'White Spaces' Vote

As expected, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) unanimously adopted a proposal that will pave the way for unlicensed devices to tap into unused "white spaces" in the TV band to deliver a range of mobile broadband services. (See FCC OKs White Space Use.)

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

kumaramitabh 12/5/2012 | 3:27:53 PM
re: FCC Rocks the 'White Spaces' Vote The decision by FCC is indeed a key one for many reasons. First, the spectral resources can no longer be afford to be wasted, and white spaces deserve to be alloted to users. Second, the Sprint Nextel-Clearwire combine hold a bulk of WiMAX spectrum in the higher bands and the growth of WiMAX in US is now linked to the performance of these companies. Third,the lower bands of 700 Mhz are importent for Mobile devices particularly as these are better suited for indoor penetration. Fourth, the mobile broadcasting will be a key area of growth and innovation and it will take more than the 3G technologies to deliver it.

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