01.09.09

Potentially really bad white space news (and a little good) [Updatedx2]

Posted in regulation, TV Bands, white space at 3:09 pm by JamesNeel

(pdf) First the good news. Today, the FCC announced that they were starting a white space fellowship program to help regulators around the world get up to speed on the FCC’s experiences.

Washington, D.C. – Federal Communications Commission Chairman (FCC) Kevin J. Martin today announced the creation of a new International TV White Spaces Fellowship and Training Initiative. The use of TV white spaces has the potential to improve wireless broadband connectivity and inspire an ever-widening array of new Internet-based products and services for consumers. International experts and fellows will have the opportunity to interact directly with FCC staff through in-country interaction, structured educational dialogue, a dedicated interactive website, online training videos, and an annual conference.

Coupled with 802 starting up its study on white-space issues, it looks like things are falling into place for a global standard in the next few years.

(link) Now the potentially really bad news. The Obama team is looking to delay the DTV transition. Here’s the AP story, but I prefer the ranty goodness in this link.

In a letter to key lawmakers Thursday, Obama transition team co-chair John Podesta said the digital transition needs to be delayed largely because the Commerce Department has run out of money for coupons to subsidize digital TV converter boxes for consumers.

Obama officials are also concerned that the government is not doing enough to help Americans – particularly those in rural, poor or minority communities – prepare for and navigate the transition

“With coupons unavailable, support and education insufficient, and the most vulnerable Americans exposed, I urge you to consider a change to the legislatively-mandated cutoff date,” Mr. Podesta wrote.

For technical clarity (for those that don’t know): Analog TV broadcasts (54 MHz – 806 MHz) are (were?) to shut down next month. All broadcasts then switched to DTV in the bands from 54-698 MHz (channels 2-43) and that’s when white-space services (around the DTV transmissions except for channels 3,4, and 37) are (were?) supposed to start.

But if the transition gets delayed, then 1) there’s less spectrum available (as there will be both analog and digital TV signals in band), 2) individual white space device approval / fielding might also have to wait (testing was for detection of DTV and impact to DTV, not analog TV).

This would also screw up the 700 MHz auctions (Verizon and AT&T) as the bands wouldn’t have cleared and  a MediaFLO deployment (Qualcomm) and some reallocated public safety spectrum.

Update

(link) On Saturday, Martin spoke out at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics show against delaying the DRV transition:

I’m concerned about the confusion that could be created,” FCC chairman Kevin Martin said during an on-stage chat at a premier Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

 

“We spent a lot of time making sure everyone knows about February 17. What kind of message will that send if we are telling people that is the date and then we don’t do it?”

To answer Martin, the economics term for the kind of message being sent is “regime uncertainty.” Hopefully that’ll get cleared up shortly after the 20th (preferably in a way that keeps the Feb 17th DTV transition date).

[Update 2]

(link) Writing for Ars Technica, Julian Simon thinks the DTV delay is being pushed at ClearWire’s behest – basically to muck up Verizon’s LTE deployments to the benefit of ClearWire’s WiMAX networks.

AT&T now supports the delay, but wants compensation. It also appears that they weren’t planning on rolling out as fast as Verizon claims they were going to.

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