In advance of today’s House Commerce Communications and Technology hearing on Keeping the New Broadband Spectrum Law on Track, unlicensed White Space advocate, The Wireless Innovation Alliance, sent a letter today to Chairman Walden and Ranking Member Eshoo on the importance of upholding auction rules and a band plan that accommodates both exclusive-use licensed and non-exclusive unlicensed technologies.
A recent study by economist Richard Thanki (pdf) found that the economic value generated even by a subgroup of unlicensed broadband applications is between $16-$37 billion per year. Throughout 2012, we have seen further evidence of the importance of unlicensed technologies to innovation, job creation, and, most recently, public safety.
Skyrocketing demand for unlicensed technologies is outstripping the supply of unlicensed spectrum and threatens to soon saturate the core 2.4 GHz band, leaving innovators and consumers with only the high-frequency 5 GHz band. While the 5 GHz band is extremely important, it is not a substitute for lower-frequency spectrum given its limited range due to higher attenuation and, over much of its range, lower power limits and more restrictive technical rules.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski indicated in his testimony today (pdf) that the FCC will auction the “H Block” next year, which is paired spectrum from 1915-1920 MHz and 1995-2000 MHz.
The new incentive auction concept poses a long list of new challenges, but we are focused on smart solutions. For example, our proposed wireless band plan consists of 5 MHz “building blocks” to allow for the greatest amount of flexibility and efficiency, including allowing for additional downlink blocks that could be auctioned separately. In developing this proposal, we’re optimizing for the new mobile data world.
In addition to unleashing a substantial amount of licensed spectrum, the NPRM proposes to free up a significant amount of unlicensed spectrum for Wi-Fi-like uses and other innovations. Both licensed and unlicensed spectrum have contributed to U.S. leadership in mobile, and I believe both will be essential parts of the landscape in the future. Unlicensed spectrum has a powerful record of driving innovation, investment, and economic growth – hundreds of billions of dollars of value creation for our economy and consumers.
As part of our implementation of incentive auctions, we are also engaging broadcasters in a constructive dialogue to meet statutory directives concerning repacking. Our notice describes specific ways in which we could implement the Act’s directive to preserve broadcasters’ coverage areas and population served, and we look forward to comments on those proposals, as well as ways to implement the post-auction transition with minimal consumer disruption and within the timetable set by the law.
Reps. Anna Eshoo (D) and Darrell Issa (R) of California called on the FCC to “protect and preserve” public access to unlicensed spectrum as it considers implementing incentive auctions of broadcast television spectrum. Walden enjoys strong support from television group owners and is generally opposed to unlicensed spectrum since it does not directly generate revenue for the treasury (or broadcasters).
Fully four years after adopting rules for unlicensed TV Band Devices (TVBDs), also called “white spaces”, the FCC has authorized (pdf) roll-out beyond the two small test areas previously approved.
Touted by advocates as “Wi-Fi on steroids,” unlicensed TV Band Devices can now boot up in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Washington DC, Virginia, and North Carolina.
The FCC expects to extend authorization nationwide by mid-January.
The first commercial White Spaces network in the U.S. launched in January, 2012, in North Carolina. So far, the FCC has only approved one white spaces device — a 1.5-lb. rectangular-shaped radio from Florida-based KTS Wireless.
The KTS device, used in the Hanover NC network, is a small, last-mile, transmitter. It uses the company’s frequency agile radio. It received FCC approval Dec. 26, last year, making it the first unlicensed transmitter allowed to operate in the TV band.
The Commission’s rules (47 C.F.R. § 15.701 et seq.) permit unlicensed radio devices to transmit on white space in the spectrum bands used by the broadcast television service, i.e., 54-72 MHz, 76-88MHz, 174-216 MHz, 470-608 MHz and 614-698 MHz.
In order to protect TV broadcast and other licensed services operating in these bands, the rules require these TV white space devices to obtain a list of channels that are available for their operation (i.e., in general, channels not occupied by authorized radio services) at their individual locations from a database system authorized by the Commission and then to operate only on those channels.
The database systems protect authorized services by preventing TV white space devices from operating on channels on which they could cause interference.
Cognitive radio chips are used by the two major white space standards groups; IEEE 802.11af and IEEE 802.22. The maximum possible data rate per 6-MHz channel ranges from 18 to 22 Mbits/s. The 802.22 spec was designed for fixed rural use, operating on 6 MHz wide channels. In contrast, the 802.11af standard can aggregate channels into 5, 10, and 20 MHz bandwidths, and is designed for both mobile and fixed devices.
In September, the IEEE 802.11af Task Group released its first stable draft standard. The resulting prototype verifies the physical and medium-access control layer design of the draft specification, NICT said. The prototype works with a white-space database developed by NICT.
The FCC plans to auction off television channels 30 through 50 for broadband wireless, and held a workshop for broadcasters. Unused, unsold, and unpaired TV channels may be good candidates for white space radio implementations – especially in unserved rural areas.
According to a major study by PolicyTracker, the defining year for TV white spaces will be 2014 as a series of major standardization efforts will be completed resulting in new white space devices (WSD) reaching the market.
In related news, the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology, recently advised the administration that some 1000 MHz of federal spectrum, especially between 2.7 GHz and 3.7 GHz, may be shared using similar White Space interrogation technology.
The 3550-3650 MHz band is mostly used by Navy radar. Devices will be able to share the frequencies with the government if they incorporate geographic location information and interrogate data bases before they transmit.
Naval carrier groups, for example, are not often found traveling through Iowa.
The Whitehouse PCAST spectrum report (pdf) promotes expanded spectrum-sharing technologies. The “white space” interrogation approach, say advisors, would enable sharing of frequency in higher bands that are currently controlled by the federal government, but only used infrequently.
Related Dailywireless articles include; White Space Radio using 802.11af Demoed, FCC: TV Auction in 2014 , FCC Dishes Dirt, Talks Up 3.5 GHz, Spectrum Bridge Partners with Carlson Wireless, Microsoft Announced Narrow Channel Whitespace, FCC Authorizes White Space Service in Wilmington, FCC Gets Unlicensed White Spaces in Payroll Tax Bill, Mobile: The New Television, FCC Moves on TV Frequency Auction, FCC Makes TV Spectrum Sharing Official, FCC Gets White Space Autonomy, White Space Show Down, Genachowski Lobbies for Unlicensed White Spaces, Universal Service Reform Passed, Microsoft Announced Narrow Channel Whitespace, FCC Authorizes White Space Service in Wilmington, White Space Legislation Goes Dark, White Space War, Bills to Kill Unlicensed White Space?, White Space Trial Completed, White Space Trialed, Huawei to Trial White Space TD-LTE, NTIA “Finds” 1.5 GHz of Federal Spectrum, UK Delays 4G Auction Ofcom: White Spaces by 2013, UK Gets Free Public WiFi, Europe’s Digital Divide Auction,