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FCC OKs unlicensed access to vacant TV airwaves

06 ноября 2008

The Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday cleared the way for giving inventors unlicensed access to vacant TV airwaves.

The vote is a victory for Google Inc. Microsoft Corp., Dell Inc. and Motorola Inc., among others.

Those companies want to use the vacant channels, called "white spaces," for high-speed wireless services for use by yet-to-be-built mobile devices and laptops. TV airwaves are powerful and can penetrate walls and travel long distances.

Broadcasters and wireless microphone manufacturers opposed the proposal on fears that the new gadgets will cause interference with their own signals.

FCC engineers completed a series of field and lab tests this summer on prototype white-space devices to determine whether they could detect and avoid live TV channels and wireless microphones. The devices generally were able to detect the signals, although industry engineers on both sides said there were some hiccups.

FCC engineers produced a report last month detailing the results of the tests and finding that manufacturers had demonstrated a "proof of concept" that wireless devices could operate without interfering with broadcast signals and wireless microphones.

The FCC's proposal to give away the TV airwaves garnered protests from major television networks, sports organizations, and musicians and rock bands such as Dolly Parton, Neil Diamond, the Dixie Chicks, Guns N' Roses and Megadeath.

A coalition of consumer groups and technology organizations has been lobbying the FCC for years for access to the vacant channels, arguing that they hold the key for innovations similar to those spurred by access to airwaves that yielded WiFi Internet.

The FCC order builds in several protections for wireless microphones and TV broadcasts. All devices will need additional FCC certification before they can be marketed to the public.

Gadgets relying solely on sensing mechanisms to avoid interfering with live channels would require an additional round of tests that would be open to the public. Under the FCC order, those additional tests won't be required if the white-space devices also use a database showing where live TV channels are broadcasting and places like sports arenas where wireless microphones are likely to be in use.

"We still will have the chance to kick the tires of those devices at the certification stage," said FCC Commissioner Michael Copps.

Commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate outlined several concerns about interference. She dissented on a provision dictating how channels would be allocated.

Tate said she voted for the bulk of the order because of its strong language requiring a database showing the locations of major theaters, arenas and TV stations. The Grand Ole Opry, in Tate's home state of Tennessee, was a vocal opponent of the white-spaces proposal.

The other commissioners on the five-member body approved the order in its entirety.

Источник: Total Telecom

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