NAB backs off white space challenge


NAB / National Association of BroadcastersFor a time the dominant spectrum concern of broadcasters was rampant and possibly untraceable interference from unlicensed devices in the white spaces between television channels. But the NAB has bigger fish to fry.

The NAB had a petition to stop FCC rules allowing the devices on file with the U.S. Appeals Court for the D.C. Circuit. NAB still says it has concerns but no longer feels the need to keep the court challenge alive.

Harold Feld of watchdog Public Knowledge was pleased. He said, “We commend NAB for filing to dismiss its court challenge to the FCC’s white spaces order. Assuming the court grants the motion, the last potential legal obstacle to the use of this valuable unlicensed spectrum will be removed and the innovations that are just beginning can continue to proceed with new confidence.”

RBR-TVBR observation: This isn’t that big of a surprise. Although the possibility of channel repacking has troubled broadcasters, it has seriously troubled proponents of unlicensed devices.
The channel repacking that will precede any incentive auction of television spectrum has the potential of squeezing white spaces to the point of extinction. However, provisions were included in the incentive auction legislation to preserve the innovation potential of unlicensed devices in whatever white spaces remain after repacking, and in guard bands.

The treatment given to unlicensed devices was better than some advocated – what goodies white space proponents received were the product of compromise. With all the moving parts pertaining to television spectrum that are now in play, the NAB is correct in being as accommodating – and wary and alert – as possible.