Broadcast associations file suit against FCC over white space

The battle over using white-space spectrum is about to heat up again as the National Association of Broadcasters and the Association for Maximum Service Television have filed suit against the FCC for its unanimous approval of the unlicensed use white-space spectrum for wireless applications.

The white-space spectrum, which sits between airwaves licensed to TV broadcasters, has been the subject of intense debate with companies such as Google, Microsoft and Motorola lobbying the FCC heavily for approval, saying unlicensed use of the spectrum would unleash super WiFi networks that have greater scope than today's WiFi systems. Broadcasters have long argued that use of white-space spectrum would cause interference with TV signals. Engineers at the FCC concluded otherwise last year.

The broadcast associations are seeking to overturn the FCC's decision, which was made in November under the Bush administration.

"The Commission's decision to allow unlicensed access to the television spectrum will have a direct adverse impact on MSTV's and NAB's members because it will allow harmful interference with reception of their broadcast signals," according to a petition review filed by the associations.

When the FCC approved the use of white-space spectrum, it placed some conditions under which the devices would have to operate to prevent interference. The conditions the FCC imposed includes requiring both fixed and portable devices to include geolocation capabilities and use an FCC database of TV signals and location of venues such as stadiums and churches that use wireless microphones. These database and geolocation capabilities would, in theory, prevent  interference with broadcast TV stations and wireless microphones and ensure compliance with FCC rules.

The FCC's rules on white space devices are scheduled to take effect March 19. The rules are the first step in creating the conditions necessary for the widespread adoption of white space wireless devices.

For more:
- see InformationWeek

Related articles:
FCC white space rules to take effect in March
FCC unanimously approves unlicensed white-space devices
Microsoft intensifies white-space lobbying efforts
Lawmakers jump into fray over white-space
Motorola, NAB press cases before FCC white-space vote

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