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NAB: FCC Should Deny White Spaces Waiver

The National Association of Broadcasters has told the FCC that it should not grant the request of Adaptrum for a waiver of the FCC's antenna height limits for devices using the White Spaces between TV channels.

NAB says there are two reasons to deny it. One is that NAB says the company appears to already have installed and tested the device before the FCC has even ruled on the waiver, which it says is flaunting the rules. Second, NAB says it cannot find the device registered in the FCC database pre commission rules.

Adaptrum CEO Haiyum Tang told B&C that the FCC allows it to experiment before getting the waiver. "As a device manufacturer we have the latitude to experiment with white spaces devices," he said.

Adaptrum wants the FCC to allow it to deliver broadband over the TV band in Northeast Maine near the Canadian border by mounting fixed TV white spaces devices on towers at heights above the FCC limit.

NAB says it supports "innovative" unlicensed devices if they can work without causing harmful interference to licensed services, i.e. broadcasters. Adaptrum has even been showcased at the NAB Show in Las Vegas.

NAB says it is "well understood" that parties who seek waivers have to wait to get them before deploying, but says "Adaptrum appears to have already installed equipment pursuant to a waiver the Commission has yet to grant," and includes photos it says are from the Adaptrum website the confirm that deployment and testing.

That testing has been without FCC approval, without registration in the database, which registration is meant to prevent interference to broadcasters.

"The Commission should be very hesitant to grant a waiver of rules designed to prevent harmful interference to a party that cannot demonstrate that it consistently follows such rules. After all, unlicensed operation does not mean operation without responsibility."

NAB also points out that the FCC has an open proceeding seeking comment on whether it can raise the height limits for devices in rural areas, the very request Adaptrum is making. It says it makes more sense for the FCC to decide that in the proceeding, based on a thorough technical analysis, rather than by waiver.

Tang says that under revised FCC rules for testing, it is allowed to do short experiments without seeking permission while it waits for a waiver, including not registering in the database. He also points out that it is a remote area in Maine where he says there are "no people watching TV and no chance of interference."

If the FCC does grant the waiver, it says, the commission should require there to be two vacant channels on either side of the channel on which the device operates, which it says should be doable.