NAB To FCC: Give Us Some Space

The National Association of Broadcasters has told the FCC it has gone too far in trying to free up more white spaces between TV channels for unlicensed use.

That came in comments to the FCC on various incentive-auction related proposals.

The FCC has made that one of the goals of the incentive auction and station repacking, but NAB says that unlicensed operation in the white spaces is sluggish, and the FCC should be in no rush to populate the TV band with unlicensed operators.

While it concedes that after the incentive auction there will be fewer challenges available for unlicensed operation in the TV band, it calls that reduction inherent in the statute that set up the auction and repacking.

"But this fact does not change the physics of interference," NAB said. While the broadcast group said there were some things to like in the FCC proposal, several others would "significantly increase the potential for interference to DTV operations, especially after the incentive auction when broadcasters are packed together more tightly."

Specifically NAB dos not want the FCC to allow fixed operations on channels adjacent to TV users, and does not want the FCC to reduce the spacing between unlicensed and TV from three channels to two as a way to shoehorn more unlicensed in the band at the increased risk of interference to TV operations.

NAB also recommends the FCC conduct a comprehensive review of the white spaces database, which signals to unlicensed devices what channels are off limits because they are already in use.

"NAB believes strongly that there is a constructive way forward that benefits local television broadcasters, their viewers and unlicensed advocates, such as Google and Microsoft. But given the expectation that the repacking process following the incentive auction will not be completed until the end of the decade, the Commission should consider its proposals with all due care."

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.