FCC set for further space exploration


That’s as in white space, the spectrum in the television zone between licensed broadcast channels, which is being targeted big time by high-tech companies that would like to flood it with unlicensed devices to deliver wireless broadband and other services. Earlier tests have failed, and NAB remains skeptical about this latest round.

This latest round of FCC tests will include laboratory test which "…measure the performance capabilities of the prototype devices under controlled conditions," and field test "…conducted at a variety of locations to provide information on the performance of the devices under real world conditions." Testing will begin 1/24/08 and will take four to six weeks. Once the testing is completed, a report will be issued within another four to six weeks, placing its release in April or May if everything stays on track.

NAB EVP Dennis Wharton commented, "NAB’s paramount objective remains the delivery of interference-free digital broadcast television to more than 100 million American households. We are not opposed to new technology; however, given the failing grade performance and incomplete implementation of the devices submitted in the first round of tests, we have a high degree of skepticism whether tests of these devices will demonstrate that a practical service using portable devices can be introduced without jeopardizing DTV service."

TVBR/RBR observation: Testing is one thing. But actually undertaking a radical spectrum experiment like this in the face of the biggest and most challenging spectrum shift in US history — the DTV transition — is just crazy. Once television stations are broadcasting in digital, interference won’t amount to the infringement of a little static or snow on picture reception; it will essentially wipe out useful reception. The move also puts at risk devices used for remote newsgathering and broadcast of sporting events. NAB notes that 70 members of Congress have expressed their own skepticism at the timing of the white space land grab. Any meaningful action on this front should be put off until the DTV transition has been completed.