Groups Seek More White Spaces Power, Tower Height

Some manufacturing and ISP members of the Connect Americans Now coalition are pushing the FCC to leverage white spaces to close the rural digital divide, backing the push by Microsoft to open up more of TV band for broadband, including rural connectivity.

The FCC has been opening up more spectrum for unlicensed, including the so-called white spaces between channels in the TV spectrum band, but the groups want it to take further steps in that direction.

The groups, which also include manufacturers and other white spaces and rural broadband advocates, asked the FCC in a letter Monday to issue a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to boost broadband deployment in underserved areas using the white spaces.

They want to boost the performance of white spaces tech--like sensors used in precision agriculture--by having the FCC propose in the notice:

1."Higher power for fixed devices in rural areas where we can operate without causing harmful interference to broadcasters;

2. "Antenna placement at larger heights above average terrain governed by a new protection mechanism;

3."Narrowband IoT operations to support important applications such as precision agriculture and environmental sensing; and

4. "Geofenced operation on moving vehicles."

Related: NAB Asks FCC to Better Vet White Spaces Administrator

Broadcasters have signaled they can share the band but only if, and it is the crucial "if"--new services do not cause interference to the licensed broadcast service spectrum the FCC has been increasingly shrinking in its effort to turn it over to broadband uses.

That would almost certainly require proof-of-performance testing before any such changes.

“NAB strongly supports expanded development of rural broadband. But that cannot come at the expense of interference free  television relied upon each day by tens of millions of Americans for quality entertainment, credible local news and lifesaving emergency weather warnings," said National Association of Broadcasters EVP Dennis Wharton. "It’s unfortunate that Microsoft – a company with a market cap of $821 billion – chose not to participate in the FCC spectrum auction that freed up TV airwaves for broadband deployment.”

John Eggerton

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.