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Today the FCC released their Second Report and Order (pdf) adopting rules for “white space” access points. It will allow unlicensed radio transmitters to operate in the broadcast television spectrum where that spectrum is not being used by licensed services.

The rules will allow for both higher power (4 watt) fixed and lower power (up to 100 mWatt) portable devices. White space devices must include a geolocation capability (to determine where it is) and must provide access over the Internet to a data base of nearby licensed users.

The data base will tell the white space device what spectrum may be used at that location. In addition a listen before talk capability will avoid interference from other users of the spectrum.

The FCC says these new rules will allow the development of new and innovative types of unlicensed devices and provide services for businesses and consumers without disrupting the incumbent users of the TV bands.


In addition, because transmissions on frequencies in the TV bands are less subject to propagation losses than the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands, we anticipate that allowing unlicensed operation in the TV bands will benefit wireless internet service providers (WISPs) by extending the service range of their operations.

We anticipate that allowing use of the TV white spaces by unlicensed devices will have significant benefits for both businesses and consumers and thereby promote more efficient and effective use of the TV spectrum.

Fixed devices may operate on any channel between 2 and 51, except channels 3, 4 and 37,
and subject to a number of other conditions such as a restriction against co-channel operation
or operation adjacent TV channels pending consideration of further information that may be
submitted into the record in this proceeding. Fixed devices may operate at up to 4 Watts
EIRP (effective isotropic radiated power).

  • Personal portable devices may operate on any unoccupied channel between 21 and 51, except
    channel 37. Personal portable devices may operate at up to 100 milliwatts of power, except that operation on adjacent channels will be limited to 40 milliwatts.
  • Fixed and personal/portable devices must also have a capability to sense TV broadcasting and
    wireless microphone signals as a further means to minimize potential interference. However,
    for TV broadcasting the database will be the controlling mechanism.
  • Wireless microphones will be protected in a variety of ways. The locations where wireless microphones are used, such as entertainment venues and for sporting events, can be registered in the database and will be protected as for other services. In addition, channels from 2 – 20 will be restricted to fixed devices, and we anticipate that many of these channels will remain available for wireless microphones that operate on an itinerant basis. In addition, in 13 major markets where certain channels between 14 and 20 are used for land mobile operations, we will leave 2 channels between 21 and 51 free of new unlicensed devices and therefore available for wireless microphones.
  • We will permit applications for certification of devices that do not include the geolocation
    and database access capabilities, and instead rely on spectrum sensing to avoid causing harmful interference, subject to a much more rigorous set of tests by our Laboratory in a process that will be open to the public.
  • The Commission will act promptly to remove any equipment found to be causing harmful interference from the market and will require the responsible parties to take appropriate actions to remedy any interference that may occur.

This Second Report and Order (press release), follows action by the Commission on November 4, 2008 (FCC 08-260). Separate statements were issued by Chairman Martin, Commissioners Copps, Adelstein, Tate and McDowell.

Related DailyWireless stories include; NAB: Blowblack on Whitespace, White Spaces: Green Light from FCC Report, White Space Field Testing, Welcome to the White Space, 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”, White Space Pow Wow, White Space Gets Hot, Martin New FCC Head, FCC Broadband Taskforce Recommendations, 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 Unlicensed Spectrum: The Sum of All Fears.

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