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FCC Announces White Space Device Field Tests

The FCC announced this week that it will begin field testing prototype television white space devices (WSDs) on Monday, July 14. The testing is open to the public.

Specific dates and locations should be available at The FCC said the page will be updated regularly.

The first week of testing will take place at Patapsco Valley State Park, Elkridge, Md., in the Avalon area and at the Thomas A. Dixon Jr. Aircraft Observation Area off Dorsey Road, at BWI Airport in Glen Burnie, Md. The FCC Office of Engineering and Technology identified these locations as “suburban.”

The following week it will conduct tests in suburban residential areas in Ellicott City, Md. and College Park, Md. The third week tests WSDs in an urban high rise environment at the FCC’s Washington, D.C., offices at 445 12th St. SW and at a semi-urban rural residence in Galesville, Md.

Rural locations in Myersville, Md. will be used during the fourth week of testing. Specific locations include a public parking lot at Route 17 at Middletown Road, the side lot on Harp Hill at Creek by Red Barn, 11348 Wolfsville Rd., and the parking lot at Myersville Park.

The locations for wireless microphone testing were not revealed. The FCC Public Notice announcing the tests lists them as “Sports Venue” and “Entertainment Venue.”

Broadcasters have opposed the use of such unlicensed consumer devices in white spaces, saying that the interference-mitigation plans proposed by electronics companies fail to guarantee that DTV signals and wireless mic users will be able to operate without interference. Nevertheless, the Association for Maximum Service Television, which has led the fight against the use of unlicensed devices in white spaces, said it welcomed the opportunity for further tests.

“We appreciate the Commission’s efforts to continue testing these proposed unlicensed devices,” said David Donovan, MSTV president. “Given their failure in the lab, it is important they undergo extensive and thorough testing. The risk of interference to consumers’ reception of free, over-the-air digital television is enormous. Testing in Maryland is a first step in the right direction. We look forward to working with the FCC at these and other locations.”

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.