ET Docket No. 10-235, In the Matter of Innovation in the Broadcast Television Bands: Allocations, Channel Sharing and Improvements to VHF, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Comments due 45 days after date of publication in the Federal Register, Reply Comments due 30 days thereafter. To view the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, click here.

ET Docket No. 10-236, In the Matter of Promoting Expanded Opportunities for Radio Experimentation and Market Trials under Part 5 of the Commission’s Rules and Streamlining Other Related Rules; ET Docket No. 06-105, 2006 Biennial Review of Telecommunications Regulations – Part 2 Administered by the Office of Engineering and Technology (OET), Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Comments due 30 days after date of publication in the Federal Register, Reply Comments due 30 days thereafter. To view the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, click here.

ET Docket No. 10-237, In the Matter of Promoting More Efficient Use of Spectrum Through Dynamic Spectrum Use Technologies, Notice of Inquiry, Comments due 60 days after date of publication in the Federal Register, Reply Comments due 30 days thereafter. To view the Notice of Inquiry, click here.

On November 30, 2010, the FCC released three items that open proceedings geared toward promoting spectrum research, examining advanced spectrum-efficient technologies, and proposing initial steps to open TV spectrum to new wireless broadband services.

The first proceeding, Innovation in the Broadcast Television Bands, seeks to make more efficient use of the nation’s airwaves by allowing wireless broadband providers to use the spectrum previously used by over-the-air TV. The FCC notes in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that by “taking these important steps to facilitate wireless broadband uses in the U/V Bands, this Notice is the first in a series of actions that will allow us to make progress toward our goal of improving efficient use of the bands and enable ongoing innovation and investment through flexible use.” Specifically, the FCC has proposed that wireless broadband providers be able to participate in spectrum auctions on an equal footing with TV broadcasters. Further, the FCC seeks comment on its proposal to enable TV stations to combine their programming on a single channel. Finally, the FCC seeks comment on methods to improve TV reception on the VHF channels (2-13), whether by increasing transmitting power, systemizing performance standards for indoor antennas, or by some other means.

The second proceeding, Expanded Opportunities for Radio Experimentation, seeks to streamline the FCC’s existing Experimental Radio Service rules by proposing a new class of license, called a “program license,” that would allow qualified entities to conduct ongoing research without needing to obtain additional approval for each individual experiment. This Notice of Proposed Rulemaking states that the “existing experimental rules are generally written to support discrete research projects, require detailed documentation prior to approval, and contain restrictions on how experiments can be modified once authorization is granted. We believe that the current arrangement is an ill fit for the culture of inquiry and exploration at academic and research institutions.” Under the FCC’s proposal, there would be three subclasses of program licenses:

  • Research License: Universities, laboratories, and other qualified entities would be permitted to conduct experiments over a range of frequencies.
  • Innovation Zone License: Researchers would identify discreet, generally remote, locations where they could conduct a variety of experiments.
  • Medical License: Medical institutions could seek licenses in order to develop new devices to provide improved care, reduce medical costs for consumers, and develop new treatment options for wounded service men and women.

The third proceeding, More Efficient Use of Spectrum, will examine how advanced “dynamic access” radios and techniques can result in innovative methods to utilize spectrum more efficiently. The Notice of Inquiry states that “cognitive” or “opportunistic” radio technologies “have the potential to significantly increase the efficiency of spectrum utilization by enabling radios to access and share available spectrum dynamically across different frequencies, thus making more productive use of this valuable resource for the benefit of American consumers.” As a result, the FCC is seeking industry input on how best to advance these technologies, “whether by creating test-beds or modifying spectrum management practices and policies for future uses of both licensed and unlicensed devices and services.” Specifically, the FCC seeks comment on, among other things, using the method recently employed for television white spaces in order to enable access to other spectrum bands, whether “spectrum sensing” is a feasible technology for providing dynamic access within certain frequency bands, and whether dynamic access technologies can be employed in conjunction with the FCC’s current secondary markets policy to increase spectrum use.