White space concept goes back to the drawing board

The Federal Communications Commission really likes the "white space" concept--the notion of using unlicensed TV white space for WiFi services. That's why it has been quick to address the failure of prototype white-space devices to operate without interfering with existing TV broadcasts as an "initial" try. A group of high-tech companies that include Google, Intel, Dell, HP and Microsoft, which collectively formed the White Space Coalition, delivered to the FCC two WiFi devices that the group claimed operated in this spectrum without interfering with high-definition TV. However, the FCC's Office of Engineering and Technology has found through preliminary trials of the prototypes that "the transmitter in the prototype device is capable of causing interference to TV broadcasting and wireless microphones."

Now the FCC says that the coalition's effort might have been premature. "The devices we have tested represent an initial effort, and do not necessarily represent the full capabilities that might be developed with sufficient time and resources," the FCC said in its report on the initial measurements of TV white space devices. "Accordingly, we are open to the possibility that future prototype devices may exhibit improved performance."

For its part, the coalition said it plans to work with the FCC to "identify the discrepancies in their tests with the tests we've done," said Edmond Thomas, a coalition representative, according to media reports. Thomas is a former chief engineer of the FCC's Office of Engineering and Technology.

The FCC loves the idea of wireless broadband for the masses in unregulated spectrum. But it faces heavy lobbying from licensed users, including the broadcasting industry.

For more about the white space debacle:
- read this article from InformationWeek
- check out the FCC's report here.