The FCC is expected to report its findings on field tests it conducted this month of prototype white-space devices. Soon after, the commission itself is expected to take up the contentious issue of whether the spectrum can be used for unlicensed devices or whether they pose too much of an interference threat to television broadcasters and wireless microphone users.
Companies such as Google and Microsoft want to use this spectrum to develop new mobile communications devices. However, the initiative has raised the ire of the National Association of Broadcasters, which argues that white-space devices may interfere with existing television broadcasts.
While the FCC wrapped up its field tests of the prototypes last week, there is still no clear indication of how well they performed. Motorola said its prototypes incorporating geolocation technology performed well. According to The Wall Street Journal, a prototype designed by Philips Electronics North America was too sensitive. The device indicated that every TV channel at FedEx Field was in use, which wasn't the case. The protoypes are supposed to detect signals that are in use to avoid interference. Representatives from the NFL, ESPN and wireless-microphone manufacturer Shure, watched the FCC engineers with shaking heads.
Meanwhile, lobbyists are getting Capitol Hill involved in the white space debate. Last week, eight members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to FCC Chairman Kevin Martin asking the FCC to adopt rules governing white space spectrum within the next 90 days so that the spectrum can be used to establish low-cost broadband connectivity in rural areas and across the country.
And just last week Representatives Anna Eshoo and Edward Markey wrote a similar letter to Martin, warning him that wireless carriers are "seeking unnecessary and unprecedented testing delays to prevent new innovative competitors from entering the market."
White space debate won't be resolved with field testing. White space editorial
Motorola exec: FCC white space testing going well. Motorola white space story