White space decision roils the waters


Hi-tech companies are promising devices within the year, including “wi-fi on steroids,” if the FCC goes along with Chairman Kevin Martin and opens up the white spaces between television stations to unlicensed devices. But opponents like the NAB wonder if those at the FCC who say the devices can operate safely even read the full engineering report.

"It would appear that the FCC is misinterpreting the actual data collected by their own engineers," said NAB’s Dennis Wharton. "Any reasonable analysis of the OET report would conclude that unlicensed devices that rely solely on spectrum sensing threaten the viability of clear television reception. Basing public policy on an imprecise Cliffs Notes version of a 149-page report raises troubling questions." The FCC said at best the matter should be opened for public comment, noting that devices had recently failed a battery of tests.

The NAB position was echoed by microphone maker Shure’s Mark Brunner, according to PC World. He said there was a “disconnect” between the technical report and the Martin announcement, and underlined that in his company’s view, the white space devices remained a threat to the use of wireless mics already resident in the spectrum block.

RBR/TVBR observation: We’re not engineers, and maybe we’re missing something, but from what we’ve seen these devices have yet to have a slam-dunk successful field test, and until that happens you’d think they’d be sent back to the drawing board. This is particularly true while legislators and bureaucrats alike are quaking in their boots as to how the TV landscape is going to look on 2/17/09 when analog broadcast has gone bye-bye. This looks like an utterly reckless move from where we sit.