Legal Issues

by Carlo Longino

Filed Under:
interference, lawsuits, spectrum, white space

fcc, nab

NAB Cries To The Court About White Spaces Spectrum Plans

from the same-old-story dept

One of the better decisions to come out of the FCC during Kevin Martin's reign was the decision to free up the "white spaces" spectrum that lies in between TV broadcasts for other uses. The white spaces are unused spectrum that sit in between TV broadcasters' signals. They were important in analog broadcasts to keep stations' signals from interfering with each other, but they are less crucial in digital broadcasts (like the ones the US will eventually switch to). White spaces proponents say that they can effectively be reused by unlicensed devices that can seek out empty spectrum and use it to communicate, without interfering with licensed broadcasts, and the FCC concurred -- and, of course, made that a key part of its approval of the technologies. But as ever, the National Association of Broadcasters disagrees, and has sued to block usage of the white spaces, arguing it will interfere with their members' broadcasts.

We might be more sympathetic to the NAB's claim if it didn't have such a long and glorious history of trying to stifle anything that competes with incumbent broadcasters, and have such an annoying way of doing it. The FCC has put significant stipulations in place to ensure that white space devices don't cause interference, and despite the NAB's contention, the prototypes that failed in the testing process didn't do so. The FCC got it right by approving use of the white spaces with the restrictions and rules it put in place to tame interference; the NAB has once again got it wrong by trying to stifle innovation, and perhaps competition.

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  1. identicon
    Luci, 4 Mar 2009 @ 8:52am

    Re: White Spaces

    These wireless systems don't just use whitespace without anyone knowing. You realize this, yes? They still have to have approval for their band usage by the FCC, so the FCC is aware of what frequencies these things use.

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