NCTA Raises TV-Interference Concerns

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Allowing unlicensed wireless-Internet providers to share broadcast-TV spectrum could disrupt cable-system access to TV stations that have mandatory carriage rights, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association said Tuesday.

The Federal Communications Commission is considering a plan that would open up the TV band to unlicensed providers, such as wireless-Internet-access providers (WISPs), in order to provide competition to the broadband-access duopoly shared by cable operators and phone companies in the residential market.

But the NCTA said the FCC’s proposal, particularly in urban areas, could foster so much congestion that “an electromagnetic cloud” could emerge, “making it nearly impossible to identify a single source of interference in the presence of many such sources.”

Each TV market is allocated 402 megahertz of spectrum -- enough bandwidth to accommodate 67 TV stations. But the average consumer has access to about seven stations due to market conditions and interference issues that require channel spacing among stations.

FCC leaders believe the TV band is underutilized and can be exploited by wireless-broadband providers if interference concerns can be managed.

In its filing, the NCTA applauded the FCC’s initiative but warned, “These efforts must not prevent cable customers from continuing to enjoy the rich and diverse products and services offered on cable systems.”

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