NAB Says No To Nominet ‘White Space’ Operation

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The use of so-called white space is of high interest to the rollout of broadband services in rural areas.


It is also of keen interest to the NAB, which has asked the FCC to reconsider the Office of Engineering and Technology’s approval for the official registry of .UK domain names to operate the Commission’s white space database system to provide service to the public.

Interestingly, the OET selected Oxford, England-based Nominet UK, which maintains a Philadelphia office, to handle the white space database.

The NAB took it upon itself to review Nominet’s database, and it is alarmed.

According to the NAB, “hundreds of errors, including incorrect channel information for at least 200 television stations,” are present.

Further, the NAB says, “Nominet’s continued noncompliance with FCC rules also raises concerns about the Commission’s overall mechanism to reliably evaluate database administrator efficacy. This process failure is cause for alarm not only for NAB’s members, but for any stakeholder interested in the white spaces experiment ever developing into something more substantial than a high school science fair project.”

Not mincing words on its displeasure with Nominet’s selection, the NAB adds, “Absent NAB’s expenditure of thousands of dollars to commission an evaluation of Nominet’s data, these errors would have gone unnoticed and uncorrected, and would inevitably have resulted in harmful interference to licensed operations.”

With a database that the NAB says should not be available for public use until it addresses specific issues the broadcast media industry’s chief lobbying group has outlined, it urged the Commission to take two additional steps.

First, it believes the Commission should undertake “a comprehensive review of Nominet’s
database and only approve Nominet as a database provider when the Commission itself is
satisfied that 100% of the data in Nominet’s system regarding operating stations is
accurate.”

Second, the Commission should take this opportunity to revise its internal
procedures for initial approval of database administrators, the NAB suggests.

The NAB retained the consulting engineering firm of du Treil, Lundin & Rackley, Inc. to test additional sites to determine whether the Nominet database was now providing
correct information concerning channel availability.

The evaluation tested Nominet’s channel search tool at 26 locations throughout the United States to confirm that the database produced the correct channel availability. At more than three quarters of these sites, the Nominet database produced at least one incorrect channel determination. These errors occur because Nominet’s database misidentifies channels as available for TVWS use when these channels are in fact in use by television stations, the NAB claims.

“Nominet appears not to understand the nature or structure of the FCC’s Media Bureau
databases and, as a result, Nominet’s database is pulling the wrong information from FCC
databases,” the NAB concludes.

Examples offered include the substitution of the licensed full-service DTV auxiliary record for WDAF-TV in Kansas City, rather than full-service DTV primary station record, and the substitution of a DTV construction permit channel for the licensed DTV station channel of WFXG-TV in Augusta, Ga.