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Top frequency coordinator suggests white space device tests at political conventions

The chairman of the group tasked with frequency coordination during the Democratic and Republican political conventions has suggested to FCC chairman Kevin Martin that the commission conduct real-world field tests of proposed unlicensed white space device during the political extravaganzas.

In a letter dated July 9 to Martin, Louis Libin, president of Broad-Comm in Woodmere, NY, and chairman of the 2008 Political Conventions Communications Committee (POLCOMM2008), pointed out that there is “extensive use” by “licensed wireless microphones used for news operations” of the same channels white space device proponents seek to share.

Libin proposed allowing tests of the unlicensed devices before the start of each convention to see if the spectrum sensing or beacon technology white space device proponents say will protect wireless mics from harmful interference generated by the unlicensed devices actually does so.

As of July 30, Libin has not received a response to his offer from the FCC, he told Broadcast Engineering’sNews Technology Update. “We have so many interference concerns about these devices,” he said during the interview. “We figured this is the greatest venue available to test these devices.”

The conventions prove to be a particularly demanding use of wireless mic spectrum. The distance between standup positions on the convention floor can be measured in hundreds of feet, he said, pushing the skillful use of wireless mic technology to the limit. Injecting white space prototype into this environment — even before the day’s events begin while wireless mics are being tested — could prove to be the ultimate test for the unlicensed devices.

“The possibility of FCC approval of white space devices is coming up very quickly,” Libin said. “We just want to know what will happen. We want to know if we are in serious trouble.”

Editor’s note: To read an extended interview with Libin regarding frequency coordination at this year’s two political conventions, see: “ HD ENG adds to long list of challenges for convention frequency coordinator.”