The FCC Rules on White Space

September 2010

On September 23, the Federal Communications Commission unanimously adopted a “Second Memorandum Opinion and Order” in its TV White Spaces proceeding. The Commission will permit the operation of new White Space devices, but has also imposed protections for licensed and unlicensed wireless microphones such as those used in the performing arts.

Specifically, there will be two TV channels reserved nationwide for wireless microphones, which the Commission expects will permit 12 to 16 wireless microphones in any location. The Commission believes that these channels, when combined with channels that are unavailable to TV Band White Spaces Devices (those channels occupied by or adjacent to broadcast television stations), will provide ample protected spectrum for the vast majority of wireless microphones.

The FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) will be working on rules for the implementation of a geo-location database. Once there is a functional database, the new White Space devices will be able to operate. These devices will need to consult the TV Band Databases to determine which frequencies are available for their use. It is expected that the FCC will aim to have the database up and running in the coming months. White Space devices would be introduced into the marketplace in 2011.

If a wireless microphone user needs more spectrum than is available in the reserved channels combined with the channels blocked to protect broadcast stations, it may register its uses in the database. This registration will require a showing that the available channels are insufficient for its needs and must be submitted to the Commission 30 days in advance to permit public notice and comment. Wireless microphones used in the performing arts will continue to operate under Part 15 as legitimate users of the broadcast spectrum.

TCG is hopeful that the two safe-haven TV channels, the ability to register additional use in the geo-location database, and the legitimacy afforded by Part 15 will allow theatres to continue to operate their wireless microphones without interference from TV Band White Space devices. TCG is a member of the Coalition of Wireless Microphone Users (CWMU) which has and continues to receive excellent counsel from Skadden, Arps.

Action: Keep an eye on on our White Space Advocacy page for more information as it becomes available. Contact Laurie Baskin with any questions or concerns and please let us know if you suffer interference after the new devices become available.

Additional Documents: The FCC on their September 23rd Ruling

  • News Release: Word | PDF
  • Memorandum Opinion and Oder: Word | PDF
  • Chairman Genachowski's Statement: Word | PDF
  • Commissioner Copps' Statement: Word | PDF
  • Commissioner McDowell's Statement: Word | PDF
  • Commissioner Clyburn's Statement: Word | PDF
  • Commissioner Baker's Statement: Word | PDF
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