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4 CE Companies Oppose DTV Spectrum Use

Washington — The Association for Maximum Service Television (MSTV) has enlisted testimony from four consumer electronics manufacturers to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), challenging a proposal to allow certain unlicensed wireless devices to operate in the so-called “white spaces” of the digital television spectrum band.

Instead, the manufacturers, including LG Electronics, Samsung, Hitachi and Panasonic, are urging that the “Commission proceed with the fixed-device approach recommended by the IEEE 802.22 Working Group,” which would establish “a robust geolocation requirement” ensuring that unlicensed devices will not interfere with consumers’ reception of digital television signals.

The group contends that unlicensed devices that use spectrum sensing technologies, such as some recently proposed for use by Microsoft, can interfere with DTV reception in some cases.

The IEEE 802.22 approach’s geolocation/database method for avoiding interference “will further the availability of broadband in rural and other underserved areas,” the manufacturers contend.

“To protect digital television reception, however, the Commission should not authorize any personal/portable device that depends upon spectrum sensing,” a collective statement by the manufacturers reads.

The manufacturers’ statement said “digital television will be impaired if unlicensed devices fail to properly detect and protect a DTV station’s channel, or if they operate on a station’s first adjacent channel.”

“It would be sadly ironic if, after all these efforts by the public and private sectors to educate consumers and to promote a successful end to the transition, the Commission were to open the DTV spectrum to devices that rely solely on spectrum sensing – an approach which has been demonstrated to cause interference,” the statement said.

The manufacturers said the Commission can advance its additional goal of extending broadband access to rural and other underserved areas using the IEEE 802.22 system.

“An equally alarming situation is emerging with respect to the next generation of digital television technologies,” according to the statement. “For example, these technologies will allow consumers to enjoy DTV programming and data broadcasts on handheld screens such as portable DTVs, mobile phones, laptop PCs, PDAs and the like. The Commission must not allow unlicensed devices to preclude the public’s access to and enjoyment of new DTV innovations, which are at various stages of development.”

The FCC plans will allow new wireless devices to operate in the DTV band, but it has not yet determined if those will be licensed or unlicensed. It also has not determined if it will allow unlicensed devices to be portable — as in the case of spectrum-sensing PDAs and laptops, to which the manufacturers object.

The MSTV and the National Association of Broadcasters also recently filed a joint statement with the FCC objecting to the approval of unlicensed spectrum-sensing devices operating in the DTV spectrum.

The Consumer Electronics Association opted not to be a party to the CE manufacturers’ position statement, as it awaits further tests of the various spectrum use proposals, said Jason Oxman, Consumer Electronics Association communications VP.

“CEA supports the broadest possible availability of spectrum for use by unlicensed devices,” he said. “We also believe that the digital television transition is vitally important. The important technical issues involved with white spaces spectrum are still being examined. We will work with the FCC and our member companies to ensure that available white-spaces spectrum is used efficiently, and that any such use of white spaces does not interfere with broadcasting or other legacy uses of spectrum.”