LoPo TV warning: White Space devices are coming

Special CDBS website unveiled as FCC tries to help rebroadcasting low power stations secure the protection to which they’re entitled.

If you’re the licensee of an LPTV or a TV Translator or a Class A TV station – collectively for our purposes here, “low power stations” – that rebroadcasts the over-the-air signal of another station, the FCC’s trying to help you out.   In the near future, TV white space devices will take to the air, creating a potential source of interference to your ability to receive the signals you rebroadcast. As the FCC proceeds with tests of databases to control those white space devices, it has simplified the steps necessary to ensure the protection to which you are entitled from those devices.

White space devices, as we hope you know by now, operate in locally vacant TV channels. They are required to protect not only household TV reception but also various other facilities, including some (but not all) low power stations that rebroadcast the signals of other TV stations. These stations receive two kinds of protection. White space devices (except for those at very low power) are not permitted to operate inside or close to the stations’ service contours – a matter not at issue here. Also protected, and the subject of this post, are the receivers these stations use to pick up the signal of the originating station for rebroadcast.

White space devices will have to consult a special database to identify available channels. That database in turn will draw on CDBS to identify low-power stations whose receivers are entitled to protection.

A public notice announces a special web page at which qualifying stations can register their receiver channels into the FCC’s CDBS system.

For protection purposes, low power stations fall into one of three distinct situations:

  1.  Low power stations located within the protected service contour of the originating station they rebroadcast – these low power stations are automatically protected under the umbrella of the originating station.
  2. Low power stations located outside the protected service contour of their originating stations, but within 80 km of the originating station’s service contour – these low power stations are entitled to protection from white space devices, but only if the low power station’s facilities have been properly entered in CDBS.
  3. Low power stations located more than 80 km beyond their originating station’s protected service contour – these low power stations are not entitled to protection unless the FCC has granted a waiver.

The FCC reminds low power stations, particularly those in the second group described above above (or in the third group with waivers), to make sure that their CDBS entries are current and correct. When full-power stations changed channels as part of the 2009 digital transition, and low power stations adjusted their receivers accordingly, many forgot to tell the FCC. Since protection of those receivers from white space devices will be dependent on the information for those stations in CDBS, this is a good time to visit the FCC’s new web page and make sure all the information there is current and accurate.

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