Shure Not Sure About White Space ‘Compromise’

The White Spaces Coalition has offered what it calls a compromise on protection of wireless mics in the unused DTV channels known as white spaces. But mic maker Shure Inc. claims the proposal from the high-tech alliance fails to address its concerns and misrepresents Shure’s previous positions.

Edmond Thomas, the former head of the FCC Office of Engineering and Technology now representing the White Spaces Coalition, told the FCC that the group now supports a three-part protection regime that includes a beacon system to alert devices about occupied spectrum. The coalition said its plan resembled that put forth by Shure earlier, and it said Shure is backtracking from a 2004 position supporting the idea of beacons.

Mark Brunner, Shure senior director of public and industry relations, said the company favored a beacon as the “third tier” in a comprehensive suite of protections—including spectrum-sensing technology and operation on known clear channels—related to large events such as NFL games and political conventions, with SBE coordination. Under that plan, he said, a small number of beacons could protect a relatively large number of users.

But the beacon concept has “drifted” since then, Brunner said, with advocates of unlicensed mobile white space devices pitching a far broader use of the notion and shifting the burden for generating the beacon on individual incumbent users.

The White Spaces Coalition proposal calls for a beacon signal transmitted at +16 dBm, centered in the middle of the TV channel on which the wireless mic is operating. Brunner called that concept a non-starter.

In recent FCC filings, Shure has emphasized the need for thorough lab and field tests for any proposed technology-based solutions, including beacons.

Other groups have been weighing in as the FCC OET continues tests.

The Broadway League, a trade association for the Broadway theater industry, also warned the FCC about the dangers of interference.

Google, which advocates rules allowing unlicensed mobile devices, got a message out through its “Public Policy Blog” instead of just FCC filings. “Through a very effective PR campaign by Shure and other wireless microphone manufacturers, the users of their wireless microphone products have been scared into believing that their ability to put on events will be irreparably harmed by the new rules currently being considered by the FCC, allowing the introduction of white space devices,” Senior Staff Engineer Phil Gossett wrote in a white space white paper. “What they fail to mention is that these same proposed rules, rather than making things worse, offer the promise of making the coordination of hundreds of wireless microphones far easier, more reliable, and robust in the face of the introduction of additional wireless microphones (accidentally or maliciously) in the same or neighboring venues.”