FCC Chair Wants to Go Forward With Use of White Spaces
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin said he wants to allow portable devices to use the airwaves between TV channels for wireless broadband service.
After months of testing and over a year of lobbying by tech firms Google, Microsoft, HP, Dell and others, the FCC's engineering office is releasing a report today that spells out the standards devices must meet in order to use the empty airwaves.
"I'm hoping to take advantage of utilizing these airwaves for broadband services to allow for unlicensed technologies and new innovations in that space," Martin said during a press conference with reporters. "This spectrum is very conducive to broadband service....the white spaces can be used as long as it does not interfere with broadcasters."
Broadcasters and wireless microphone makers have been opposed to this idea. Letting unlicensed devices use the airwaves, they say, would disrupt their broadcasts and the signals used in sports events and concerts.
Martin said he is circulating the report with other commissioners and hopes to vote on the item at the FCC's Nov. 4 meeting.
He said the portable devices must have sensing technologies as well as a geo-location database. This would make sure the devices would be able to detect nearby broadcasts in order to avoid those frequencies. The database would allow the device to automatically know which airwaves are in use at any given time, giving the broadcasters more protection from interference, he said.
In addition, large entertainment venues such as Nashville and New York would be able to be listed in that database so devices would avoid those frequencies used by wireless microphones. And devices would be restricted to lower power levels on airwaves adjacent to broadcasters.
It will still take time for manufacturers to develop devices and have them certified by the FCC. Devices that do not have both the sensing and geolocation technologies would have to go through an additional round of testing in FCC labs.
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