In response to several petitions for reconsideration, the FCC late last week approved modifications to its TV “white space” rules, which were first promulgated in 2010 to afford users greater flexibility to deploy unlicensed fixed and wireless broadband devices in the white space bands. The rule changes, proclaimed the FCC, “will result in decreased operating costs for fixed TVBDs (unlicensed TV bands devices) and allow them to provide greater coverage, thus increasing the availability of wireless broadband services in rural and underserved areas without increasing the risk of interference to incumbent services.” Under the order, fixed device antennas in the white space bands will be permitted to operate at a maximum height above average terrain (HAAT) of 250 meters while maintaining the current antenna height limit of 30 meters. Noting that its previous rule limited fixed white space antennas to sites where the ground HAAT does not exceed 76 meters, the FCC predicted that the relaxed rule will allow for “the use of sites that were previously precluded by the rules . . . permitting greater coverage from each site.” The FCC stipulated, however, that the combined site elevation above average terrain and antenna height for any transmitting device may not exceed 250 meters. Among other things, the order also increases the maximum power spectral density limit for each TVBD category to allow a TVBD “to operate at the maximum permissible power in a bandwidth of 5.5 MHz instead of 6 MHz.” Asserting that “the FCC’s reasoned approach balances the rights of incumbent TV stations with the interests of rural consumers that lack affordable access to broadband,” an official of the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association said that the agency’s order “will enable wireless ISPs to provide fixed broadband services to larger areas with less infrastructure.”
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TV “white space” rules relaxed by FCC
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