White-space opponents accuse Microsoft, Spectrum Bridge of violating experimental license rules

Microsoft and Spectrum Bridge, both competing to provide white-space databases, have spurred criticism from long-time opponents of white-space technology because of the way these two companies have handled their experimental white-space licenses to date.

Filings with the FCC are arguing that neither Microsoft nor Spectrum Bridge should be allowed to operate white-space databases because both broke the rules when using experimental licenses this year during trade shows. The FCC officially approved the use of white-space spectrum--which consists of slivers of 700 MHz channels freed by the transition of TV channels from analog to digital--last September.

White-space devices can only operate by checking in with a database to avoid interference with TV and wireless microphone signals. Nine companies, including Spectrum Bridge, have been approved by the FCC to operate white-space databases. Microsoft is vying to be a 10th provider.

Microsoft is being accused of violating its white-space experimental license during the recent National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) in Las Vegas. During the show, Microsoft applied for an experimental license to demonstrate white-space technology, but according to a filing from the Engineers for the Integrity of Broadcast Auxiliary Services Spectrum (EIBASS), the software giant didn't look into the frequencies used by local TV stations before applying for a show licenses nor did it coordinate with the Society of Broadcast Engineers, which is a requirement of the license.

The filing said that an EIBASS member noticed the discrepancy but that Microsoft could have knocked out TV transmissions across Las Vegas since the license wasn't restricted to the convention center.

NAB has accused Spectrum Bridge of knocking out wireless microphone signals being used by CNBC at the CTIA Wireless 2011 trade show in Orlando. In its filing, the NAB said Spectrum Bridge was operating a transmitter at 656 MHz from its booth, a violating of its experimental license that only allows the company to make demonstrations at 174 MHz to 216 MHz. Apparently CNBC engineers were able to retune their microphones to an alternate frequency but they also traced the interference to Spectrum Bridge.

In short, both filings argue that since these companies can't follow the rules of their experimental licenses, they can't be trusted to operate databases that all white-space devices will rely on.

For more:
- see this article from The Register

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