Monday, November 3, 2008

FCC Approves Television White Spaces

The FCC approved rules governing Television White Space (TVWS). The rules will permit fixed or mobile wireless devices to operate in broadcast television spectrum on a secondary basis at locations where that spectrum is open. The approval is expected to lead to a new class of unlicensed devices in the unused spectrum that provide broadband data and other services for consumers and businesses.

The FCC said its new rules represent a careful first step to permit the operation of unlicensed devices in the TV white spaces and include numerous safeguards to protect incumbent services against harmful interference.

Such devices must include a geolocation capability and provisions to access over the Internet a database of the incumbent services, such as full power and low power TV stations and cable system headends, in addition to spectrum-sensing technology. The database will tell the white space device what spectrum may be used at that location.

Wireless microphones will be protected in a variety of ways. The locations where wireless microphones are used, such as sporting venues and event and production facilities, can be registered in the data base and will be protected in the same way as other services.

The FCC has required that devices include the ability to listen to the airwaves to sense wireless microphones as an additional measure of protection for these devices. All white space devices are subject to equipment certification by the FCC Laboratory. The Laboratory will request samples of the devices for testing to ensure that they meet all the
pertinent requirements.

The FCC also will permit certification of devices that do not include the geolocation and data base access capabilities, and instead rely solely on spectrum sensing to avoid causing harmful interference, subject to a much more rigorous approval process.

See also