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FCC to test devices on white spaces spectrum

14 июля 2008

Microsoft, Motorola, Philips submit prototypes for regulator to test on unused TV spectrum from this week.

The Federal Communications Commission last Thursday took a step toward deciding whether electronic innovators can have access to unused television airwaves, announcing that it will begin field testing prototype devices this week.

The FCC's ruling on how the unused airwaves will be regulated, if at all, is of crucial importance to companies such as Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp. that want to use those channels to develop new mobile communication devices.

Microsoft, Motorola Inc., and Philips Electronics NV, all have submitted prototype devices to the FCC for testing.

Companies seeking access to the unused airwaves, also known as "white spaces," want that spectrum to remain unlicensed as long as their devices meet noninterference standards.

Critics of their efforts, including the National Association of Broadcasters and manufacturers of wireless microphones, argue that devices operating on unused airwaves run the risk of interfering with other broadcasts.

Until recently, most of the white space devices submitted to the FCC have malfunctioned during lab tests.

But last month, Philips successfully demonstrated to FCC staff and several commissioners that its prototype could operate on unused channels without interfering with other broadcasts.

Philips' prototype was able to detect and avoid an operating television channel and the frequency used by a wireless microphone that was turned on during the demonstration, according to Ed Thomas, who advises Philips on white spaces.

The FCC now will move its testing to several residential locations and to at least one sports venue and one entertainment venue.

FCC Spokesman Robert Kenny said the field tests will give commissioners the information they need to determine if they should give companies access to the unused airwaves.

"The commission will only proceed if it can determine that commercial, unlicensed use will not cause significant interference to licensed TV broadcasters' use of the spectrum," Kenny said.

The National Football League and ESPN, which is owned by the Walt Disney Corp., have invited the FCC to test the devices during the upcoming football season. The groups are worried that devices operating on unlicensed airwaves will interfere with the wireless communications used by the teams and the broadcasters covering the events.

Advocates for access applauded FCC's move. "Today's announcement by the FCC affirms what we have known all along, white space technology works, and as a result, the FCC continues to move the process forward," said Jake Ward, spokesman for the Wireless Innovation Alliance, a coalition lobbying for access to the unused airwaves.

NAB Executive Vice President Dennis Wharton said he remains skeptical. "NAB has no quarrel with field tests, but based upon multiple failures of unlicensed devices in laboratory testing thus far, we remain highly skeptical that this technology will ever work as advertised," he said.

Mark Brunner, Senior Director of Global Public Relations for the wireless microphone manufacturer Shure Inc., applauded the FCC's decision to test white space devices at sports and entertainment venues. "Shure looks forward to continuing to offer its full assistance and expertise to the commission as it formulates the test parameters and protocol," he said.

Источник: Total Telecom

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