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Small Calif. Company Enters White Space Arena

Microsoft, Motorola and Philips have some competition from a small, unknown entrant in the race to develop a device that could someday operate on the so-called “white spaces” in the DTV spectrum, should future FCC rules allow them.

Adaptrum, based in Mountain View, Calif., told the FCC it will deliver two prototype devices to the FCC Nov. 26 or later for testing, and would conduct its own test and provide support for the FCC as well.

Companies promoting prototype white space devices have attempted to show that the products can detect even weak DTV signals and avoid using those channels, thus eliminating the danger of interference. Broadcasters have argued that a white space regime involving only fixed, licensed devices, would better protect DTV signals. Motorola has suggested a two-tiered system with both sensing and geolocation technology for higher-power devices.

Tests this summer by the FCC found interference issues in devices submitted by Philips and Microsoft. Microsoft said its device was malfunctioning, and Philips tweaked its device and conducted more tests. In early October, the FCC announced it would conduct more tests, but did not indicate which companies’ products it would test, or how many.

Adaptrum has no Web site or working, listed telephone number, but it has been awarded about $850,000 in Defense Department electronics contracts since 2004, according to an independent Web site that tracks government contracts.

The company’s CEO, Dr. Haiyun Tang, is the co-author of a March 2007 paper by the New America Foundation in support of white space technology.