Wireless Broadband Test Continues

ICT Materials 25 February 2008 01:12 (UTC +04:00)

( PcWorld )- A wireless broadband device tested by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission for interference with television and wireless microphone signals has not failed, as a broadcasting group claimed last week, members of the White Spaces Coalition say.

The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) on Feb. 11 said a so-called prototype device submitted by Microsoft lost power during tests being run by the FCC. The power failure comes after another white spaces device malfunctioned in tests run by the FCC last year.

But Ed Thomas, a tech advisor to the White Spaces Coalition and a former chief of the FCC's Office of Engineering and Technology, said that while the devices power supply failed after many hours of continuous testing, it did not interfere with television signals due to the power failure.

Thomas, during a press briefing, said the NAB was engaged in "rhetoric" designed to complicate the FCC's device testing."Let this be based on science, not politics," Thomas said of the ongoing testing at the FCC. "Let the facts prevail."

The White Spaces Coalition, including Microsoft, Philips, Dell and Google, is asking the FCC to allow wireless devices to operate in the so-called white spaces of the television spectrum, space allocated for television signals but vacant. The coalition wants the white spaces opened up to give consumers more wireless broadband options, and the white spaces devices would be targeted at longer-range broadband than traditional Wi-Fi.

If the FCC approves the devices this year, commercial white spaces wireless devices could be available as soon as late 2009.

The FCC's in-house testing of four devices will continue for a couple more weeks, then the agency will conduct field tests for up to eight weeks. A second white spaces device has experienced no power failure problems, Thomas said.

But television broadcasters have opposed the coalition, saying it's likely that the that wireless devices will interfere with TV signals. The NAB has suggested the FCC should focus instead on a successful transition of TV stations to digital broadcasts, required by February 2009.

White spaces devices are "not ready for prime time," said Dennis Wharton, the NAB's executive vice president.

Wharton responded to Thomas' assertion that the Microsoft device did not interfere with TV signals.

"The devices they've tested haven't performed the way they were expected to perform," Wharton added. "That, in our view, constitutes a failure."