MSTV wary of new Google push to share TV band

Last week’s renewed effort by Google, including a Congressional lobbying push by the company's cofounder, to allow unlicensed devices to share TV spectrum was met with an icy reception from the Association for Maximum Service Television (MSTV).

Google cofounder Larry Page, addressing Washington, D.C.-based think tank The New America Foundation May 22, said the fears of broadcasters that such devices would cause interference were unfounded. In response, MSTV President David Donovan issued a statement the same day: “Interference is always the issue whenever you try to ‘share’ spectrum. Generalized assertions about non-interference are no substitute for exhaustive engineering.”

As envisioned by Page, white space devices could deliver broadband access to millions of Americans who currently are without. However, the MSTV questioned Google’s position, suggesting it has to do more with economic advantage.

“Interference would not be an issue for Google if it had followed through with the bidding and purchased spectrum in the 700MHz band. It did not,” Donovan’s statement said. “Now, it seeks to access billions of dollars of spectrum for free and ‘share’ it with a number of incumbent licensed services, including digital television.”

Currently, the FCC Office of Engineering and Technology is conducting tests of prototype white space devices. The commission has said it will use the results of the lab and field tests to inform its handling of the white space question. Commission watchers expect movement this summer from the FCC on whether such devices will be allowed, and if so, under what conditions.

Alluding to the expected action, Donovan expressed the hope that the FCC would protect DTV owners from harmful interference. “Policy makers will soon have to make a choice,” he said in the statement. “I hope that they will not disenfranchise millions of consumers that just purchased new digital television sets or government subsidized converter boxes.”

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