FCC To Conduct New White Spaces Testing

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Washington – The Federal Communications Commission announced late Friday that it plans to conduct more testing on portable wireless devices that allegedly can operate in the same spectrum band as local TV stations without causing harmful interference.

“The Commission is committed to working with all parties to continue the process of investigating the potential performance capabilities of TV white space devices in an open and transparent manner. To that end, the [FCC] Laboratory will be conducting additional laboratory and field testing of prototype devices,” the FCC said in a statement, adding that it would provide more details at a later date.

A group of companies, including Microsoft Corp., is urging the FCC to open so-called broadcast white spaces to wireless services on an unlicensed basis, meaning the spectrum would not be obtained in an auction. The National Association of Broadcasters is strongly opposed, claiming use of the white spaces would damage reception of digital TV signals.

For FCC chairman Kevin Martin, the issue represents a clash of competing priorities: ensuring a successful transition to DTV on Feb. 17, 2009 and promoting broadband deployment and competition through mobile technology.

“If the devices work without interfering with broadcasting, that will enable us to more efficiently utilize the spectrum,” Martin said Oct. 2. “Obviously, if they create interference with broadcasters, you wouldn’t want to jeopardize the DTV transition.”

Observers from industry, he added, would be welcome to attend  testing sessions.

“Our engineers are going to be conducting additional tests. There’s additional devices that have been provided. We’re going to do those tests in very open, transparent way so that the broadcasters can come and observe the tests. The technology companies that submitted the devices can come," Martin said.

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