The TV Band White Space Device initiative continues to move forward in light of the FCC’s Broadband plan and the TV Incentive Auction rulemaking. This is an update of some of the recent notices released by the FCC over the last several months and how they affect wireless microphone operation.
September 19, 2012 – The FCC Opens Wireless Microphone Registration of major event/production venues in the East Coast region: New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Washington, DC, Virginia and North Carolina. The Public Notice released on this date outlines the procedures a venue (e.g. sporting event, large theatrical production, etc.) must follow to apply for registration for unlicensed microphone operation at the venue location. Initial application is with the FCC. If the request meets the criteria it is placed on public notice for 30 days for comment. If there are no objections the venue can then register their event through one of the approved White Space Database administrators.
December 6, 2012 – The FCC issued a Public Notice authorizing approved TV White Space Database systems to provide service to unlicensed radio devices (aka TV Band White Space Devices). The FCC feels this is appropriate since there has been ample time since the September notice to register an unlicensed microphone venue. Concurrent with this notice the FCC opened up, across the nation, the registration for major event/production venues similar to what they did on September 19. These venues, requesting protection for unlicensed wireless microphones, can begin filing their applications for registration with the FCC. The FCC also anticipates expanding from regional to nationwide operations of TV White Space Database systems (i.e. service to TV Band White Space Devices) by mid-January 2013.
Conclusion – The takeaway for broadcasters holding a BAS authorization for operation of wireless microphones in the TV bands is this: They should ensure their studios and other locations of frequent and known wireless microphone use are registered with an approved TV White Space Database system of their choosing. There is no cost to register a location for a licensed user. Understand that the states mentioned in the September notice are “HOT and On-Line” now. Failure to register your location may result in interference from a TV White Space device. With unlicensed wireless microphone registration now open nationwide, expect the FCC to soon also authorize TV White Space Device operation nationwide. For our members who work for companies that produce large events that use unlicensed microphones, consider registering those venues for protection. Do remember, however, you need to apply at least 30 days prior to the event and must meet FCC eligibility criteria.
There are currently two approved TV White Space Database systems: Spectrum Bridge and Telcordia. I would expect the FCC to be approving others before long. At this time there are few TV Band White Space Devices in operation. Expect that number to grow in the near future. Be ready.
This information was provided by Joe Snelson, CPBE, 8-VSB, SBE Vice President and Chairman of the SBE Frequency Coordination Committee. Snelson is vice president of engineering, local media group at Meredith Corporation.