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On Part 15, Share and Share Alike

FCC modernizes rules to give access to — and permit sharing between —white space devices and microphones in the 600 MHz band

Continuing its efforts to “ensure licensed services are protected from interference” after the upcoming broadcast incentive auction, the FCC last week voted to update its rules surrounding Part 15 devices.

The commission adopted an order to modernize Part 15 rules — which permit unlicensed devices to operate in unused TV channel white space — to encourage innovation and maximize unlicensed access to spectrum, the commission said in its report and order on Aug. 6.

The new rules allow both unlicensed wireless microphones and unlicensed fixed and personal/portable devices to use channels in the 600 MHz and television broadcast bands. The rules will permit sharing of spectrum between white space devices and unlicensed microphones in the 600 MHz band. (Read an FCC summary.)

Some concerns have arisen over issues like potential interference from unlicensed devices in certain areas.

“Although I support today’s item, I do have some concerns that things may not work out as conveniently in real life as they do in this item,” Commissioner Michael O’Rielly said in a statement. “While I trust that OET’s findings are correct, there is a lot riding on them.”

O’Rielly also expressed concern that there is no specific process in place to ensure what corrective action will be taken if it’s determined that harmful interference is happening.

The decision was approved by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and Commissioners Mignon Clyburn, Jessica Rosenworcel, with Commissioners Michael O’Rielly and Ajit Pai approving and concurring in part.

FCC Okays New Rules for Wireless Mic Users