FCC white space tests continue; Microsoft out

While many continue to argue about what the test results really mean, the FCC has completed its first round of testing on white space technologies and is now continuing a new series of interference testing in the field.

Motorola, a proponent, said the tests demonstrated that its proposed geolocation database works. Bruce Oberlies, a Motorola executive, said the first test was a difficult challenge because it was conducted in a valley with trees. However, he said, the Motorola device’s geolocation database correctly identified television channels in use. Google backed Motorola’s statement.

However, David Donovan, head of the Association for Maximum Service Television, said the tests proved the devices are not reliable and will result in interference to consumers’ DTV sets.

In the meantime, as FCC tests recently began at Patapsco Valley State Park in Elkridge, MD, Microsoft — a key proponent of using white space spectrum for Internet access — pulled out of the testing. The tests went on with technologies from Motorola, Philips, Adaptrum and the Institute for Infocomm Research, a Singapore-based research agency.

Microsoft had previously submitted prototypes for white spaces testing alongside other companies at an FCC laboratory, with the aim of proving that their use won’t cause interference with digital TV transmissions or wireless microphones. Microsoft’s lab testing, however, was hindered by technical glitches.

A coalition of high-tech companies has lobbied hard to allow the use of unlicensed devices on the white spaces in order to dramatically expand wireless Internet access. The FCC is trying to figure out how and whether to allow unlicensed devices to operate in the DTV spectrum in an effort to more efficiently use the spectrum.

The FCC is conducting the field tests in about a dozen locations over the next several weeks.