NAB: Unlicensed Devices Threaten America



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The National Association of Broadcasters launched a campaign on Monday designed kill the use of so-called “white spaces” of TV spectrum.

The campaign from the NAB and the Association for Maximum Service Television comes in response to an FCC report detailing its testing of prototype devices from the technology giants, like Microsoft, Google, Intel, and Dell which are working together as the White Space Coalition.

Corporate broadcasters, who get their television channels for free, say portable devices will degrade TV services.

The FCC has already approved transmission in the spectrum for fixed devices. The prototypes submitted by the technology companies were of portable products.

The FCC, in its first test, found that portable unlicensed devices didn’t consistently detect the signals and could sometimes cause interference (pdf).

However, two weeks after the FCC released its report, Microsoft filed a letter with the FCC explaining that the device it submitted was badly damaged and that’s why it failed to adequately detect broadcast signals.

Even though the FCC found that the prototype devices don’t consistently work properly, the agency said it is open to the possibility that future devices could perform better.

The White Space Coalition says each of the nation’s 210 TV markets will have 15 to 40 unassigned, vacant and unused tv channels (pdf) which “could deliver Internet access to every American household for as little as $10 a month.”

An unused channel is an unused channel.

Nevertheless, the NAB fears portable “white space” devices (that max out at 100 mW), may bring the whole thing down. The IEEE 802.22 working group, which includes representatives from television broadcasters world-wide, aims at constructing Wireless Regional Area Networks utilizing unused channels in the UHF TV band.

Broadcasters are concerned that rules previously proposed may not be sufficient to protect TV viewers from interference, says TV Technology. The Association for Maximum Service Television announced a paper, “Why Unlicensed Use of Vacant TV Spectrum Will Cause Interference to DTV Viewers (pdf),” by Victor Tawil and Bruce Franca.

It counters claims made by the New American Foundation Issue Brief on July 2006 titled, “Why Unlicensed Use of Vacant TV Spectrum Will Not Cause Interference to DTV Viewers (pdf).

According to HDTV Magazine, it’s the NAB itself, with it’s push for mobile television using their A-VSB mobile transmission system, that may be a bigger threat to HDTV reception, since it saps bandwidth from the HDTV channel. Samsung says a mobile A-VSB signal will subtract 7Mbps from a DTV channel, which may largely preclude off-the-air, HDTV.


Many broadcasting stations are already using part of the HDTV 6 MHz channel (19.4 Mbps) to transmit several simultaneous multi-cast SD channels, and those are already degrading considerably the quality of the once alone HD channel, reducing its available bandwidth to close to half of the 19.4 Mbps, a bandwidth it requires to show acceptable quality.

Related DailyWireless stories include; Microsoft Disputes FCC Unlicensed Finding, FCC: License-free 700MHz Devices Failed Test, Broadcasters: Portable Devices Kill DTV, Mud Fight in White Space, Pushing for “White Space”, Consumers to FCC: 700MHz Democracy Now!, Broadband Wireless — Hello Goodbye, Microsoft’s “Free” Phone?, Bills Expand Unlicensed UHF Access, 700MHz Battle Begins, Cognitive Brains Self Organize, Unlicensed 700Mhz Access, HiWire: 24 Mobile TV Channels, MobileTV: Modeo KOed by Crown, Mobile/Handheld TV: Killer App?, Mobile TV War at NAB, NAB 2007: Dead Man Walking?, MediaFlo Debuts March 1st, NYC Mobile TV Delayed, Hiwire Moves on Mobile TV, Mobile TV: Six Flavors and FCC Finalizes Rules on 700MHz: Limited Open Access, No Wholesale Requirement.

Posted by Sam Churchill on .

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