Comment Cycle Set on Duplex Gap Second-Channel Proposal

The FCC's proposal to open a second channel for white spaces devices and wireless mics in the so-called duplex gap in markets where the FCC repacks TV stations in the gap--the FCC says a half dozen or so--has been published in the Federal Register which means its public comment cycle is now set.

Comments can be filed by Sept. 30, with reply comments due Oct. 30.

The FCC has said that in order to clear as much contiguous spectrum for wireless as possible in the upcoming broadcast incentive auction, it may have to relocate TV stations in that gap, which is the buffer between wireless uplink and downlink spectrum.

But it also set aside that buffer spectrum for unlicensed use and wireless mics, so repacking TV stations there in a handful of markets could result in interference from wireless devices and vice versa.

That drew criticism from broadcasters, wireless companies and some on Capitol Hill, including some high-profile Democrats.

That pushback helped push the FCC vote on the proposal back from July 16 to Aug. 6, but a politically split FCC approved the proposal, though with the addition of the proposed new channel in those markets.

The FCC has scheduled the incentive auction to begin March 29, 2016.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.