Last updated: September 25, 2008 - 10:44am
Every city in the country -- even New York City -- has a host of unused TV channels. Opening up that fertile field of spectrum to the seeds of innovation is a worthy-sounding goal that everyone can agree to in principle, but when it comes down to making the rules that govern access, and to certifying the devices that can operate, the debate hops on the express train to Nastytown. How did a campaign to allow unlicensed access to TV "white spaces" turn into a "campaign of fear," a "political proceeding," and a series of "ridiculous assertions"? Because of what's at stake.
Google cofounder Larry Page blasted as unfair recent interference tests of prototype devices that would deliver wireless broadband on unused television spectrum. The tests, conducted by the Federal Communications Commission, measured interference with the wrong signals, Page said Wednesday. The tests attempted to measure interference with wireless microphones during a professional football game in Maryland, but those microphones were operating on spectrum also occupied by much stronger TV signals, said Page, speaking at a rally to promote the use of so-called white spaces spectrum. The protocol devices would be designed to operate in the white spaces, spectrum designated for television stations but unused. It would be "impossible" for the white spaces prototype to detect the weak signal that a wireless microphone puts out when a much more powerful TV station is using the same spectrum, Page said. "There's no way to do that," he said. "You're going to detect the television station, not the wireless microphone. What I'm telling you is, the test was rigged."
Reps. Jim Cooper (D-TN) and Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) were quick to respond Wednesday to a Capitol Hill event backed by Google promoting the use of the so-called white spaces between digital-TV channels for unlicensed wireless devices. They say they remain unconvinced by Federal Communications Commission testing of the devices. The fact that the two reps are from New York and Tennessee is no coincidence. Representatives of Broadway and the Grand Ole Opry have both expressed concerns about unlicensed white-spaces devices -- a point the pair acknowledged in their release.
- White Spaces Jockeying Continues
- TV White Spaces Proceeding (Unlicensed Operation in the TV Broadcast Bands -- ET Docket No. 04-186)
- White space tests get mixed results
- TV, Web Firms Clash Over Airwave Test
- White Spaces Update: It's Amazing What You Learn From Field Testing
- Dingell to FCC: Consider Licensing White Spaces
- Google offers searchable map of all white space spectrum in the US
- Google co-founder pushes TV
- Poor Results in NFL White Spaces Test, says Shure
- Initial Evaluation of the Performance of Prototype TV- Band White Space Devices
- Spectrum Engineers Rebut Industry Interference Claims
- NRB Warns FCC on White Spaces
- White Spaces Event Sept 24
- White space backers see new devices in a year
- Broadcasters Push White Spaces Alternative