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White Spaces Vote Still on FCC Agenda

Despite a chorus of pleas from broadcasters, musicians, sports and concert producers, religious broadcasters and a number of legislators, asking the FCC to reconsider holding a vote on allowing mobile, unlicensed devices to operate in the so-called “white spaces” of the digital spectrum, the planned Nov. 4 vote remained on the commission’s agenda

It could still be pulled anytime up to the day of the meeting. The chairman is said to have at least two votes and is trying to get the third locked down. A source told B&C last week that there were three likely votes, but not set in stone.

Part of the reason for that uncertainty was likely the lingering tension over the low-power must-carry item that the chairman and the other four commissioners parted company over. But it may also be the blitz of filings from everyone from Dolly Parton to all the major sports leagues asking the FCC to table the vote and instead put out for public comment an FCC engineering report saying the devices could be made to share the band without interfering with TV or microphone reception.

The commission waived the sunshine period for the white spaces item, meaning the usual seven-day quiet period for contact with the commissioners over an item on the agenda is not in effect through this Friday, Oct. 31. Hence, both sides can continue to weigh in with the commission on the item until that time.

Computer companies want to be able to use the so-called white spaces between TV channels for wireless broadband and other advanced wireless services. Broadcasters are concerned that the devices will interfere with DTV channels and wireless microphones that already share the spectrum.