Advanced Television

FCC will allow 'white space' open season

October 16, 2008

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin has said that the FCC will propose allowing mobile unlicensed devices to operate in the white spaces between DTV channels. Martin said that he was proposing allowing devices with both remote-sensing and geo-location capabilities–like laptops and so-called smart radios–to operate in the DTV band so long as they can tap into a database of broadcast TV channels in the area so they would not interfere with them.

He also said power levels would be more limited for devices operating on channels adjacent to TV channels than for other channels. Martin said the FCC was proposing allowing the devices to operate at 100 milliwatts, but only 40 milliwatts on adjacent channels.

He said the FCC’s white spaces report, released this week, concludes that the devices can be employed without interfering with broadcasts, – an conclusion broadcasters argue with. The FCC has been testing prototype devices, with mixed results.

David Donovan, who heads the Association for Maximum Service Television, told Broadcasting & Cable that allowing 40 milliwatts of power on a first adjacent channel will “decimate over-the-air TV.” MSTV has been a leading voice in opposition to allowing the unlicensed devices, arguing they could wreak havoc with DTV reception at the same time that the government is trying to convert the entire country to DTV.

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