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Broadcasters challenge FCC 'white space' report

The National Association of Broadcasters wants the FCC to take a second look at its recent report supporting the use of "white space" spectrum.

The National Association of Broadcasters has filed an emergency petition with the Federal Communications Commission in an effort to change the agency's mind about supporting the use of "white space" spectrum.

The NAB, which has opposed the use of "white space" spectrum, said in a statement that it has filed a request for the commission to take public comments on a report that the FCC issued earlier this week stating that this spectrum could be opened up for unlicensed use without interfering with licensed spectrum holders. The report said that geolocation and sensing technologies were adequate in preventing interference. The FCC is set to vote on a proposal to open up this spectrum during its November 4 open meeting.

The NAB filed its request in conjunction with the Disney's ABC, CBS, General Electric's NBC, News Corp.'s Fox and other broadcasters.

"White spaces" are slivers of unused spectrum that sit between licensed broadcast channels in the 150MHz to 700MHz spectrum bands. The FCC tested several proof-of-concept devices this summer to see if companies can develop products that could use this spectrum without interfering with licensed spectrum services in these bands.

In a report released earlier this week, the commission's Office of Engineering Technology said that devices with geolocation and sensing technologies could be used without interference.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said this week that he will submit a proposal for the rest of the commissioners to vote on that would open up white spaces for unlicensed use. Several technology companies, including Motorola, Microsoft, and Google have been lobbying the FCC for more than a year to open up these channels, which would provide between 300MHz and 400MHz of unlicensed spectral capacity throughout the country that could be used by anyone.

These technology companies believe this spectrum, which is ideal for sending data wirelessly over long distances and penetrating through walls, can be used to enhance or create new wireless broadband services. And they say they can develop products and services that use this spectrum without interfering with services running on licensed spectrum in adjacent bands.

But incumbent spectrum license holders, such as TV broadcasters and cell phone operators, say wireless devices that access this unlicensed spectrum will cause interference in the neighboring spectrum bands.

The NAB said that the FCC's own report contradicts claims that devices using white space spectrum do not interfere with services using adjacent spectrum channels.