Broadcast television is about a year and a half away from becoming a digital only service. At the same time, the FCC is being pressured to make the frequencies between stations – white spaces – available to unlicensed devices. One of the proponents of this idea is Microsoft, which would like to provide wireless internet access and other services in the cracks between television stations. Although a recent FCC test of one of these devices created interference, Microsoft says it was a defective prototype and that newer versions can successfully operate in white space spectrum.
The NAB is pushing back hard. It noted that the FCC test was comprehensive and that it believed the unsatisfactory results were accurate. NAB's Dennis Wharton said, "By continuing to press its self-serving agenda, Microsoft is playing Russian Roulette with America's access to interference free TV reception."
SmartMedia observation: There is much at stake on 2/17/09, the day analog television goes away. Concern that many citizens will be left behind with analog-only equipment is rampant in Washington. It hardly seems the appropriate time to be conducting experiments in ground zero of the digital transition. The entire white space debate should be postponed until we've established that the transition has been successfully accomplished.